Thursday, December 6, 2018

Reconstruction Aide Harriet Moore

Button from a Reconstruction Aid
uniform of 1918-1920.

In 1917, Congress required that all veterans from World War I receive rehabilitative health services.  The Army Surgeon General then developed a training program for women aides.  Six locations were selected and women high school graduates who could pass a physical exam recruited.
Harriet Forest responded and entered a program at Reed College which included courses in anatomy, physiology, hygiene, psychological aspects of recovery, hospital management, massage, and “corrective gymnastics.” The students also attended clinics in orthopedic surgery. Graduates appointed as Reconstruction Aides received fifty dollars per month (sixty dollars if serving abroad) and living expenses.  They cared for wounds, and treatments to keep up muscle tone and help soldiers recover from fractures, paralysis, and amputation. Sixteen of the “re-aides” later founded the American Physical Therapy Association.

After completing the program, Harriet Forest traveled to the mobilization center in New York City, expecting to be sent to France.  Her orders were cancelled and she ended up serving at Camp Gordon and Fort McPherson in Georgia and at Walter Reed Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland. She served in the program from 1918 to 1920, followed by a year doing physical therapy for the Public Health Service.

Harriet Forest Moore in
Reconstruction Aide outdoor uniform.
Harriet Forest Moore in
Reconstruction Aide indoor uniform.
After service, Harriet enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College, graduating with a B. S. in 1922.  In 1924 she received one of the first M.S. degrees in vocational education awarded by OAC. 
After marrying James Moore in 1922 and raising two children, she became involved in local history, recording headstone information for the DAR and writing a history of the Corvallis Presbyterian church. In 1955, she took a job as an assistant in cataloging at the OAC library.  From 1961 to 1966 she served as the university archivist, work which won her the Oregon Historical Society’s Henry C. Collins award from the collection and preservation of local history.  She also collected many of the photographs in the Benton County Historical Museum’s collection.
Harriet Forest Moore
Although the Reconstruction Aides were sworn into the army and given orders by the Army doctors, and paid by the military, Congress reclassified these aides, plus telephone operators and other female military workers as civilian employees.  As such, they were not considered veterans and not eligible for benefits.  In 1977, the G. I. Bill Improvement Act ordered the Department of Defense to accept applications for veteran status from women with wartime service.  In 1981, reconstruction aides were officially recognized as such.  When several years later Harriet Moore applied for veteran’s benefits, the army said its records showed that she had served only a short time and was not eligible.  She submitted documents to show otherwise but the issue was not resolved before she died in 1992. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

1 comment:

  1. is she in this photo from Walter Reed?