Korean War Legacy Project

Out of the Shadows Inquiry: Staging the Question


Staging the Question

We recommend staging the compelling question by having students listen to an audio clip of an interview of Oneida Miller-Stuart, an African American World War II Army nurse. The transcript of the interview should be used in conjunction with the audio. Teachers might ask students to discuss the extent to which Oneida Miller-Stuart was affected by discrimination.

*While telling her story, Oneida Miller-Stuart uses racially charged language that must be previewed by teachers. The word is stricken and replaced in the interview transcription but remains part of her oral history. KWLF and C3 Teachers do not condone use of the word and believe teachers must do their due diligence (e.g., contact school administration, parents, etc.) before leading this inquiry. Redaction and replacement are based on guidance from The National Archives Records Administration: https://www.archives.gov/research/catalog/lcdrg/appendix/black-person

Featured Source: Transcript of Oneida Miller-Stuart interview: Dealing with racist patients and prisoners of war.

Listen to the audio clip “Dealing with Racist Patients and Prisoners of War” at the Library of Congress website »

O: We treated all the soldiers.

I: Oh, you did?

O: Yes. We were called [Black person] many a time. And don’t put your hands on me [Black person]. And I won’t take that blood [Black person]. But, uh, you just kept on ‘goin.

I: Where there any white soldiers that treated you halfway decently?

O: Oh yes, there were a lot of them, there were a lot of them.

I: How many patients would you estimate were at Nichols General Hospital during that period?

O: Oh, 500 or more? I’m just estimating cuz I really don’t know.

I: So, there’d be the 30 black nurses and approximately how many white nurses?

O: Oh, over 100 or more.

I: So, you were all mixed in together

O: We were all mixed together

I: So, a white nurse and black nurse would have certain responsibilities on the same ward?

O: Yes, we’d do the same things. We, uh, at one time I almost got to be head nurse on one of the units for the paraplegics, but I couldn’t handle it because, uh, when I went up for orientation, they gave me the dressings to do for that morning, so I, uh, started with my little cart down the ward and they had so many pressure sores, and so many problems that you had to deal with that I was kinda slow my first day. And I guess it must have been almost lunch time when I got to one soldier and then he sounded off, “Don’t put your hands on me [Black person]!” And, it bothered me to point that where I just left everything and I went up to talk to the head nurse and she said, “Oh, don’t pay any attention to him.” But he continued and they sent him to the guardhouse, in Vietnam, and they brought him back and he still said [Black person], it didn’t make any difference, he couldn’t move. But he didn’t want me to touch him. And I said, I don’t think I’ll fit in up here very well, I think I’d like to go back to my medical surgical unit and so they let me go back.

I: Of the 500 patients, how many black soldiers were in the barracks, if any?

O: Very little, very few, very few. I remember on the surgical unit where I was working, I might have had two or three blacks.

I: Do you remember what units they were from, if at all?

O: No

I: I know there was the 92nd Division was one all black division.
O: No. There were a lot of prisoners of war down there at Nichols Gen hospital, from Germany. At camp McCoy they were from Korea and Japan. We had no, we took care of them, but they never talked to us. The Koreans were real nice though, friendly. They always grinned at ya. And, uh, gave you little pictures that they painted, they were good at, in art. But down in Nichols, the majority of patients were Germans and Americans.

I: Oh, some American prisoners too?

O: Well, they weren’t prisoners, the patients were at Nichols. The prisoners there from Germany, when they would get back on their feet, they would be put out to work at the complex there, painting and carpentry, that sort of thing.