History professor’s article focuses on Russian nurses in WWI

Mar 16, 2012 | General News, Liberal Arts

In a recently published article, Louisiana Tech University assistant professor of history Dr. Laurie S. Stoff takes a new look at the vitally important roles of Russian women in medical services during World War I. Titled “The ‘Myth of the War Experience’ and Russian Wartime Nursing during World War I,” Stoff’s article appears in the current issue of Aspasia, the International Yearbook of Central, Eastern and Southeastern European Women’s and Gender History. In her study, Dr. Stoff discusses the wartime experiences of “sisters of mercy,” as Russian nurses were called prior to 1918. Beginning with Florence Nightingale’s participation in the Crimean War in the mid-19th century, women nurses have become an increasingly important presence in modern warfare. In Russia, during World War I, nurses were essential in providing medical service to millions of soldiers and civilians affected by the conflict. Despite the importance of their involvement, nurses have been seen as secondary players in war, overshadowed by male combatants. “It is traditional to think of men’s role in warfare as active, involving killing and dying, and women’s as passive, involving care and nurturing, but that separation is blurred when we compare the experiences of female medical personnel and male combat personnel,” Stoff said. “What we learn from these experiences is that it is misleading to think of warfare as an exclusively male experience.” Russian women’s World War I nursing experiences share many features of those of male soldiers, Stoff’s article states. Wartime nursing in Russia exposed many women to serious deprivations and extreme danger associated with combat, including exposure to extreme cold, constant fatigue, vermin infestations, contagious diseases, deadly artillery fire and aerial bombardment. A member of the Louisiana Tech faculty since 2006, Stoff holds a B.A. degree from George Washington University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.  A specialist in Russian history and women’s history, she is the author of “They Fought for the Motherland: Russian Women Soldiers in World War I and the Revolution.”