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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project


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African-American nurse Mattie Donnell Hicks (1914-2004) of Greensboro, North Carolina, served in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) from 1945 to 1966.


Artifacts, an oral history interview, and textiles document her service during World War II and the Korean War. Artifacts include service ribbons, cuff buttons, and shoulder insignia. The oral history interview documents Hicks's early life, her military service, and her post-war life in Greensboro, N.C. Specific subjects include basic training at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin; segregation in the army; damage done in Korea during the war; her activities as a nurse during the Korean War; her travels to Japan, Korea, and Germany; and her social activities in Germany. Textiles include two uniforms, a seersucker exercise suit, a hospital gown and cap, outer wear, and accessories that primarily date from the 1950s.

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Mattie Donnell Hicks was born 2 September 1914 and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated from Dudley High School and entered nurse's training at the Grady Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia. Hicks graduated after three years and worked in Gainesville, Georgia, and Spartanburg, South Carolina. She also completed graduate courses in public health in both Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hicks joined the ANC on 2 July 1945, and completed three weeks of basic training with an integrated unit at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. She was shipped to the general army hospital at Camp San Luis Obispo in California, where she became a member of an African American unit. Hicks was released from the army following VJ Day in August 1945, but re-entered in March 1946. She was sent to Tilton Army Hospital at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as a general medical and surgical nurse, and then to the Fort Lee, Virginia.

From 1951 to 1953, Hicks served at the 11th Evacuation Hospital in Korea and later at the Osaka Hospital in Japan. Additional stations of duty include Lockburne Air Base in Columbus, Ohio; Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania; Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, California; the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Lee, Virginia; 2nd Field Hospital in Germany; the U.S. Army Hospital at Bremerhaven, Germany; and Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Hicks retired from the army as a major in April 1966, after twenty-one years of service. She built a house in Greensboro and worked part-time as a nurse at the L. Richardson Memorial Hospital. Mattie Hicks died Greensboro on 14 March 2004.

Mattie Donnell Hicks performing nursing duties, circa 1950
Item # WV0044.6.003
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers
Potrait of Mattie Donnell Hicks, circa 1950
Item # WV0044.6.001
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers
Mattie Donnell Hicks receiving award, circa 1965
Item # WV0044.6.002
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers
Oral history interview with Mattie Donnell Hicks, 1999
Item # WV0044.5.001
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers
Army Nurse Corps seersucker dress, 1945
Item # WV0044.8.001
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers
Army Nurse Corps taupe raincoat, circa 1950
Item # WV0044.8.002
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers
Army Nurse Corps taupe overcoat, circa 1951
Item # WV0044.8.003
From the Mattie Donnell Hicks Papers