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Evelyn Crary Bacon papers

Identifier: 2011.Jan.1

Scope and Contents

The papers of Evelyn (Crary) Bacon contain both personal and professional material. A large portion of this collection relates to her career as a nurse and nurse educator and her involvement in various nursing organizations. Also of significance are the papers concerning her participation in World War II as a nurse in the Army Nursing Corps. The collection includes audiovisual items, correspondence, course files, military artifacts and materials, organizational records, photographs, publications, research and subject files, and writings.

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1936-1997. This series consists of Bacon's personal papers including accounts, audio cassettes (of Evelyn and her sister Julia in 1942, and an undated cassette of a religious study group in which Bacon participated), biography and curriculum vitae, calendars, certificates, correspondence, educational materials (relating to her academic career from high school through graduate school), employment records, family papers (materials pertaining to her husband Franklin Bacon, her brother Elisha Avery Crary, and sisters Annabelle Crary Jump and Winson Crary Voss), photographs, and other personal papers.

Series 2: World War II Papers, 1940-1994. This series, divided into two subseries, consists of papers relating to Bacon's participation in the war as a nurse for the Army Nursing Corps and also the wartime papers of her cousin, Kathryn B. Martin a member of the Women's Army Corps.

Subseries 2.1: World War II Papers of Evelyn Crary Bacon. This subseries contains Bacon's Army Nurse Corps records, 1942-1948; items from Camp Robinson, Arkansas, 1942; correspondence, 1940-1948, that Bacon exchanged with family and friends; a diary with entries made from January 1 - February 22 while she was in Belgium with the 45th and 5th Evacuation Hospitals and also a few entries from June 15-25, 1949; items relating to the 45th Evacuation Hospital shortly after the D-Day invasion in 1944; items pertaining to the 298th General Hospital in England, including photographs of the nurses and a 50th reunion program commemorating the nurses who served; maps, 1944; military artifacts including nursing pins, uniform patches, insignia are related items; medical notes; mission log of Ed Hughes, April - December, 1944; newspapers and newspaper clippings; Organized Reserve Corps papers, 1948-1953; photographs taken at Camp Robinson and during Bacon's overseas duty, 1942-1945; publications relating to Army Nurse Corps, the U.S. Army, and the War Department, 1943-1945, 1989; Veterans' Administration materials, Bacon's World War II recollections recorded in 1994; and souvenir items Bacon collected while in Europe. The correspondence is of particular significance in this series. While she was unable to give some details due to censorship requirements, Bacon's correspondence provides great insight into her work as an Army nurse as well as her experiences during the war.

Subseries 2.2: World War II Papers of Kathryn B. Martin. The papers in this subseries pertain to the military career Kathryn B. Martin, a cousin of Evelyn Bacon. Items include materials relating to her service in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) with the 101st Airborne Division, photographs, and publications such as the WAC Field Manual, 1943 and a booklet on the Nuremberg trials, 1945-1946. Also included is a travel journal detailing her trip to London in 1985.

Series 3: Writings and Speeches, 1939-1991. This series contains the writings of Evelyn Bacon including her articles, dissertation, master's thesis, and speeches and notes.

Series 4: Professional Papers, 1938-1997. This series is divided into two subseries and contains materials relating to Bacon's career as an educator in the field of nursing at various institutions.

Subseries 4.1: Institutional Files, 1938-1997. These are files kept by Bacon that relate to her work at several colleges and universities including J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond Professional Institute, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Virginia, among others.

Subseries 4.2: Course Files, 1958-1969. These files contain papers such as syllabi, tests, resource materials, etc. relating to courses Bacon taught at the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond Professional Institute, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Series 5: Organization Files, 1909-1997. This series, which is the largest in the collection, contains organizational materials collected by Bacon. She belonged to numerous national and state nursing organizations as well as some academic and civil groups. The files she kept contain correspondence, convention and meeting materials, newsletters, pamphlets, reports, and other publications and materials related to the groups. There are files for specific committees and boards for the organizations in which she was actively involved as an officer or committee member, such as the Virginia League for Nursing and the Virginia Nurses Association. Bacon was very interested in nursing history and some of the materials she collected were for their historical significance. Some examples are the materials of the Graduate Nurses Association which include convention programs from 1909, 1916, 1923, and 1925.

Series 6: Research and Subject Files, 1911-1997. This series is divided into three subseries containing materials relating mostly to the nursing profession and its history and nursing education.

Subseries 6.1: Conference and Workshop Files, 1959-1996. This subseries contains files relating to conferences and workshops attended by Bacon that pertain to her career in nursing and her interest in nursing education.

Subseries 6.2: Subject Files, 1940-1997. The subseries consists of files maintained by Bacon on various topics containing articles, clippings, notes, and other materials relating to the subject. The files reflect Bacon's keen interest in many areas of nursing including nursing education and curriculum development, nursing history, and professional issues such as nursing shortages and standards of practice.

Subseries 6.3: Publications, 1911-1994. This subseries contains various publications collected by Bacon relating to nursing. Subjects covered include nursing education, nursing history, mental health, reproductive health, government studies and reports on nursing, and biographies of medical pioneers such as the Health Heroes Series published by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.


  • Creation: 1936-1997


Access Restriction

Collection open for research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Evelyn Thelma Crary Bacon was born on September 27, 1916 in Grundy Center, Iowa and was the youngest child of Elisha Avery Crary and Gertrude Minor Crary. By the time Bacon was 16, both of her parents had died and she was placed under the guardianship of her aunt, Nellie (Minor) Morrison. Bacon remained in the guardianship of either her aunt or her brother, Avery Crary, until she turned 21. After completing high school in 1934, Bacon moved to Los Angeles, California where Avery lived and practiced law. She attended Los Angeles Junior College for two years before transferring to the University of Iowa in 1936. There she earned a degree in political science in 1938 and a degree in nursing in 1940. She began work in December of 1940 as a staff nurse at Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois. In January, Bacon joined the American Red Cross Nursing Corp which also made her a reservist in the Army Nurse Corps. She would have a lifelong affiliation with the American Red Cross. During the summer of 1941, she commenced work on a master's degree in nursing at the University of Chicago. In September, Bacon accepted a position at the University of Iowa, School of Nursing as an assistant instructor for nursing arts. She worked there until June of 1942, at which time she was called for active duty in the Army Nurse Corp.

Bacon was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 298th General Hospital, comprised mostly of University of Michigan doctors and nurses. She had requested assignment to this unit and a recommendation by her friend Margaret King, a nurse with the 298th, made this possible. The 298th trained at Camp Robinson in Arkansas from June until October, when they were deployed to England. The 298th took over operation of Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, England. During her duty at Frenchay, Bacon was in charge of her own ward and cared for wounded officers from the North Africa campaign as well as prisoners of war. Bacon attended the Army Nurse Corps School at the American School Center in Shrivenham, England and subsequently became an instructor at the school in 1943.

After eight months at the school Bacon transferred to the 45th Evacuation Hospital and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in April 1944. The 45th landed at Normandy on June 16th and followed the First U.S. Army as it moved through France and into Belgium. She worked most often in the OR seeing patients with abdominal, chest, and head injuries. Bacon transferred to the 5th Evacuation Hospital early in 1945, and was assigned to the postoperative care ward for neuro-surgical cases. She was in Germany when the Axis Powers surrendered and believed she would be sent to the China Burma India Theater, but the war ended before that occurred. Bacon was shipped home in September 1945 and remained in the Organized Reserve Corp until she was honorably discharged in 1953 with the rank of Captain.

After the war Bacon returned to the University of Chicago and completed her master's degree in nursing education in 1946. She taught at UCLA and the University of Iowa before enrolling in a doctoral program at the University of Chicago in 1949. However, before she completed the degree she met and married Franklin Bacon (1916-2004) and moved to Charlottesville, VA, where he was the Director of Extension Teaching at the University of Virginia (UVA). Bacon began her career at UVA teaching extension courses throughout the state for UVA's Cabaniss School of Nursing Education. She served as acting chair of the University's Department of Nursing Education from 1954 to 1956.

The Bacons moved to Richmond, VA in 1958, where Franklin became the Dean of Students at the Medical College of Virginia (MCV). Between 1958 and 1965, Bacon worked as a nursing education and nursing service consultant for various organizations including the Virginia League for Nursing, the Virginia State Board of Nurse Examiners, and the Virginia Department of Mental Hygiene and Hospitals. During this period Bacon also served as an associate professor and Director of the Associate Degree program at MCV (1960-1961) and as an instructor at MCV's School of Hospital Administration (1962-1963).

In 1965, Bacon joined the faculty of the Richmond Professional Institute as the Director for the School of Nursing. She guided the nursing program until 1971, when it was incorporated into the Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Nursing on the MCV campus. In 1972 J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College hired Bacon where she successfully planned and implemented a new associate degree program in nursing. She retired in 1985, but remained active in the fields of nursing education and nursing history. One of her many activities was assisting with the organization of the Virginia Nurses Association archives which was given to VCU's Tompkins-McCaw Library in 1985.

Bacon maintained a lifelong passion for nursing education and enhancing nursing curriculum. This is evident by her involvement in numerous professional organizations. She served as a board member, vice president, and president of both the Virginia League for Nursing and District V of the Virginia Nurses Association, in addition to various committee assignments for both organizations. She was also an active member of the American Association of History of Nursing, American Nurses Association, and National League for Nursing. Bacon remained very committed to the Red Cross and became the first woman chairman of the Richmond, VA Chapter of the Red Cross. Bacon was also engaged in civic and community activities. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and served as a board member and president of the Richmond chapter. Bacon enjoyed music and played both the piano and organ. She was a member of the Richmond Chorale Society and the Richmond Symphony Chorus. Bacon was an Episcopalian and a member of Grace and Holy Trinity Church in Richmond.

Bacon and her husband never had any children. They spent their later years living in Charlottesville, VA at Westminster- Canterbury, a retirement community. While a resident she served on the Health Services Accreditation Committee from 1995-1996 for the facility. Bacon passed away on October 27, 1997. She was interred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Bacon was acknowledged by her peers as a pioneer in the field of nursing and nursing education in Virginia. As such she was posthumously recognized as an Outstanding Nurse in 1999 by the Virginia Nurses Association and in 2000 was named a Virginia Pioneer Nurse.

Kathryn B. Martin (1911-2001)

Kathryn B. Martin was born on February 19, 1911 in Tripoli, Iowa, the daughter of Edwin Henry and Bertha Crary Martin. She was a first cousin of Evelyn Crary Bacon. Martin served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps with the 101st Airborne Division in the European Theater from 1943-1946. After her discharge from the Army, Martin taught speech, drama, and English for 40 years at Warren High School and Beaty Junior High School in Warren County, PA.


15.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection is divided into six series: Series 1, Personal Papers, 1936-1997 ; Series 2, World War II Papers, 1940-1994; Series 3, Writings and Speeches, 1939-1991; Series 4, Professional Papers, 1938-1997; Series 5, Organization Files, 1909-1997; Series 6, Research and Subject Files, 1911-1997. Efforts have been made to maintain the original file organization when possible. Files are arranged alphabetically within each series and the materials within the files are arranged chronologically where applicable.

Technical Requirements

This collection includes several audio cassettes and VHS tapes.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Evelyn and Franklin Bacon.

A Guide to the Evelyn Crary Bacon Papers, 1909-1997
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, Health Sciences Library, Virginia Commonwealth University, Accession number 2011/Jan/01
Margaret Turman Kidd
2011 By Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the VCU Health Sciences Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 509 N 12th St
Box 980582
Richmond Virginia 23298 USA US
(804) 828-9898