HRPE: The American Red Cross

Posted on
Two American Red Cross volunteers hand out donuts to soldiers. Accession # P0003-01–L-16193

We return to our research on the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (HRPE) with the American Red Cross. The Red Cross played a vital role in maintaining morale and the mental health of those in the military, especially those abroad. During World War II, the Red Cross was the only civilian service organization authorized to work with overseas military personnel, and in fact began providing aid to civilian victims of the war in Europe before the US entered the war in 1941. Red Cross members were a mix of volunteers and employees, who served both at home and abroad. The Red Cross provided supplies, aid, and refreshments to all those who needed it. Many volunteers signed up to be nurses aids through the Red Cross. However, during WWII the Red Cross was probably most famous for their free donuts, to the point that many volunteers were referred to as ‘Donut Dollies’! 

Like many organizations at the time, the American Red Cross held applicants to a very high standard. Female volunteers had to be college graduates, at least 25 years of age, have excellent reference letters and pass physical examinations. The application standards were so high, only 1 in 6 applicants were accepted. After accepting the volunteer position, women were then sent for training in Washington D.C. before being assigned a position on the Homefront or abroad.    Read more

Way Back Wednesdays

Posted on

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any old photos, but I would like to get back into as the history of the museum is fascinating!  This first photo shows the Virginia Travel Council visiting us on October 16, 1953.  This is especially relevant as Virginia Tourism paid us a visit just a couple of weeks ago.

On September 3, 1947, a group of children were rewarded for participating in the Library Vacation Reading Plan with a visit to the museum.  Clearly the little boy in the front wasn’t too thrilled about the visit, he looks so bored.  Haha!  The other boy on the left is intensely studying our Robert Hood watercolor, which is a very interesting piece.  The letters are created by using people or other aspects of the image.   Read more