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Interpreting the Evidence

Marion Dickerman, Nurse Orderly

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Marion Dickerman, World War I Nurse Orderly, c. 1918 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Marion Dickerman was born on April 11, 1890 in Westfield, N.Y. She graduated with a B.A. in 1911 and a master's degree in education in 1912 from Syracuse University. She was a teacher, suffragist, women and children rights advocate, as well as a one time close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. After a falling out occurred between the two, Dickerman still worked closely with FDR, who appointed her to the President's Commission to Study Industrial Relations in Great Britain and Sweden in 1938.; During WWI, Dickerman became involved with the Red Cross and Liberty Loan drives. She also conducted work abroad, serving as a nurse orderly at the Endell Street Military Hospital in London in spring 1918.; Dickerman died on May 16, 1983 in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Photograph taken c. 1918.
Historical Context
Marian Dickerman was born in Westfield, New York in 1890. She was a social studies teacher in Fulton, New York and later in New York City. She was a suffragette who advocated not only for women’s right to vote, but also for world peace, abolition of child labor, and protection for women in the workplace. Marian was also a strong supporter of Woodrow Wilson during World War I. She truly believed that this was “the war to end all wars.” Her support was evident through her work with the Red Cross and the Liberty Loan drives.

In the spring of 1918, Marion and her lifelong friend Nancy Cook became nursing orderlies for the Endell Street Hospital in London, England. While providing janitorial services at this hospital, Marian witnessed some of the most horrific displays of human suffering. She returned to the United States in 1919 and became the first woman to run for the New York legislature. She lost the election but went on to become the owner of a private girl’s school and a business partner of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Essential Question
How do women contribute to national issues?
Check for Understanding
Describe the woman in the photograph and explain her role in World War I using evidence from the historical background.
Historical Challenges
Marion Dickerman was a business partner and very close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. Research her relationship with Eleanor and determine the extent to which Marion may have influenced some of Eleanor’s political and social opinions.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Art: Write a newspaper article about Marion Dickerman’s contributions during World War I.
Art/Technology: Design a webpage for Marion Dickerman and the various political and social movements that she supported. Be sure to include information about her contributions during World War I.