Special Collections and University Archives

by Audrey Sage

Every scrapbook tells a unique story. Looking through scrapbooks that were created by women who have served in the military throughout the last century is a very special experience. Snapshots share a moment in time that can only briefly capture the experience of the veteran. There are playful photos, very serious images, and some very honest and straightforward truths regarding the intensity of war and preparation for combat.

Pearl M. Wasem Scrapbooks from the the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project.
Alberta E. McKeever Scrapbook
Pearl M. Wasem Scrapbook

There are as many different formats for scrapbooks as there are events and decades. It is sometimes challenging to preserve these unique purveyors of information and windows into times and places past. It is important to try to maintain the overall structure and presentation as built by those who compiled and shared their information in these volumes.

Alice C. Boehret ” My Snapshot Treasures”

Dr. Alice Boehret was born in Philadelphia PA, on Jan. 2, 1919, and grew up between Philadelphia PA and Wildwood NJ. She was a graduate of Germantown High School Class of 1937 and Jefferson Medical College Hospital School of Nursing Class of 1941. She served her country during WWII in the Army Nurse Corps and was honorably discharged in May 1946 earning the rank of First Lieutenant. After her service she attended the University of North Carolina Greensboro and on the GI Bill graduated in 1950 with a BA in French. She returned home to teach at the Albert Einstein Hospital but in 1957 she accepted a teaching position at UNC and served as chair of the Department of Nursing from 1960 till 1966. Dr. Alice Boehret left in 1966 to attend Columbia University and received her doctorate in 1972. After achieving her goal she helped to establish the baccalaureate nursing program at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ and retired from Rutgers in 1984. 

The photo album belonging to Dr. Boehret contains a wonderful collection of images. However, the page substrate of this unique comb-bound scrapbook upon which the photos are mounted is disintegrating but salvageable, as seen here. I was able to extend the original page with archival materials and replicate a durable material into which the original plastic arms could be extended to hold the page in place within the original cover. The cover itself had a few tears along the rear hinge but that was able to be mended with some toned japanese tissue and rebuilt.

Alice C. Boehret “Snapshot Treasures”

Alberta E. McKeever World War One Scrapbook

Within the collection, among many others, is a special photo album belonging to Alberta E. McKeever (1876-1954), who served with the United States Army Nurse Corps from 1917-1919, where she served as a nurse at Base Hospital 27 at the Mongazon Seminary located in Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France from September 27, 1917 until March 13, 1919. She served, on a brief detachment from November – December 1917 at Camp Coetquidan in Morhihan, Brittany, France. She was discharged from the Army Nurse Corps on June 3, 1919. McKeever was born on 21 June, 1876 in St. Petersburg, Pennsylvania and she died on April 11, 1954 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Her scrapbook contains pages of photographs depicting those with whom she served, views of the landscape where she was trained and served, and images that show the true and grisly sight of combat. This scrapbook is constructed of cloth and leather covered wood and metal. It has previously been mended with copious amounts of glue and wire and colored paper, which with care were removed in order for a new and updated mend could be performed.

The front cover was detached and the steel bar holding the pages secure to the posts was missing. A board was fabricated and silver wire used to secure in place before the cover was reattached, with hopes that these images and these stories will be preserved at least another hundred years as it will now reside in its own custom enclosure for safe keeping.

Restored and resting in its new clamshell enclosure for safekeeping.

The university is fortunate to have this treasure trove of collections which provide insight and inspiration from the many materials, documents, scrapbooks, and oral histories, among many other valuable items, that are a part of the Betty H. Carter Women Veteran Project.

Each scrapbook is carefully tended and housed in a specially constructed conservation enclosure, that will ensure its preservation for use and historical documentation of the lives and dedication these women have provided for our military branches through the decades.

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