Skip to main content


Rosemary T. McCarthy Papers

Identifier: 2022-052

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the Rosemary T. McCarthy Papers concern Dr. McCarthy's interests and activities after her retirement from the Army Nurse Corps in 1983. Chief among these is her participation in the Korean War Veterans' Memorial Advisory Committee, documented in correspondence, publications, photographs, and related materials. Dr. McCarthy's collection of general correspondence ranges from the 1960s to 2004 (with her retirement years again obtaining greatest representation). These letters principally concern professional and academic matters, especially the history of nursing, and include many by McCarthy herself. Also of particular interest are a set of notes and hand-outs from various nursing courses in 1958 and 1967-68, as well as a collection of McCarthy's student papers and research reports, together indicating the state of nursing scholarship and pedagogy at the time. A complete set of McCarthy's military orders traces her career with the Army Nurse Corps from 1953-1983, and a cassette recording of an interview with Colonel Florence A. Blanchfield has been converted to digital media.


  • Creation: ca. 1930-2009

Biographical / Historical

Rosemary Teresa McCarthy (1926-2012) was a member of the United States Army Nurse Corps for thirty years, retiring at the rank of Colonel in 1983. McCarthy earned a diploma in Nursing in 1948 from the McLean Hospital School of Nursing, in her native Massachusetts, followed in 1957 by a B.S. in Nursing Education at the University of Minnesota, a Master's in Biology from Boston University in 1967, and a Doctor of Nursing Science degree from the Catholic University of America in 1974. Lieutenant Colonel Phyllis J. Verhonick, an early and strong proponent of nursing research, served as Dr. McCarthy's mentor in the Army Nurse Corps, and encouraged McCarthy to publish a number of research studies, among them projects related to cardio-pulmonary capacity, metabolism, and vomiting. In civilian life, Dr. McCarthy held an adjunct professorship at the Catholic University School of Nursing for many years.

McCarthy's initial military assignments came as a staff and head nurse in surgical intensive care and post-anesthesia recovery, and included postings in Korea, then embroiled in the Korean conflict. She held instructional responsibilities at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco, and in nursing service direction at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. She also served as a nursing service consultant for the U.S. Surgeon General's office. After her retirement, McCarthy joined the Korean War Veteran's Memorial Advisory Board, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. She served as the only female member of that twelve-person commission -- and the only nurse -- guiding the difficult war-memorial design process to conclusion in 1995. Her interest in nursing history extended beyond the Korean Memorial commission, and in fact, her last active-duty posting was a five-year assignment as the historian for the Army Nurse Corps. At this time, in the spring of 1979, McCarthy co-founded the Historical Methodology Research Interest Group, a precursor to the American Association for the History of Nursing (AAHN), for which she served as president from 1986-88.


1.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



(1926–2012) Thirty-year member of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, Colonel, retired. Adjunct Professor at the Catholic University School of Nursing. Some materials from her career, including a complete set of orders, but the bulk of the collection pertains to her retirement activities, particularly her role in the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee, where she was the only woman and only nurse. Served five years as historian for the Army Nurse Corps; President of the American Association for the History of Nursing from 1986 to 1988.


The materials in the Rosemary T. McCarthy Papers are arranged alphabetically by general subject heading. Items within each folder are in chronological order.

Henry K. Sharp
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry Repository

University of Virginia School of Nursing
P.O. Box 800782
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0782 United States