Rosemary Theresa McCarthy

June 21, 1926 - June 7, 2012

Barbara Brodie, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Eleanor Bjoring, PhD, RN, wrote this tribute, which appeared in the January 2014 issue of Nursing History Review.

On June 7, 2012, a dear friend and fellow nursing historian Rosemary McCarthy quietly died at the Sacred Heart Home in Hyattsville, Maryland, 19 days shy of her 86th birthday. The only child of Mary and Thomas McCarthy, Rosemary was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1926. A bright, talented, energetic, and serious young woman, she graduated from the Arlington High School on D-day, June 6, 1944. This was an important date for Rosemary because Allied troops were landing in France that day to begin the liberation of Europe from German occupation. Such a coincidence may have foretold her future.

Unsure of what she wanted to do with her life, she considered being a physical therapist, artist, or nurse. Because her family was of modest financial circumstances, she selected nursing. At the time, hospital diploma schools of nursing charged little if any tuition. She first applied to the famous Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing but was rejected because they had already "accepted their quota of Irish Catholic Students." She was not upset about this decision because the school also used quotas for Jewish and African American students. Encouraged by a family friend who was a nurse, she applied to the McLean Hospital School of Nursing in nearby Waverly. Admitted in 1945, she joined the school's U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps Program because it provided her tuition, uniforms, and books, plus a stipend. In return, upon graduation she was required to serve as a military nurse if needed. Her serving as a cadet nurse during World War II, made Rosemary feel that she was, as other fellow Americans, answering the needs of her county.

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Cadet Nurse
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McLean Hospital School of Nursing, Waverly, Massachusetts
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Portrait of Rosemary Theresa McCarthy
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