Dear Ms. Flewellyn,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
The reference to “St. Mary’s Unit” may indicate that the people depicted are former members of a U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps unit based at St. Mary’s Hospital’s School of Nursing. The Cadet Nurse Corps, under the supervision of the United States Public Health Service, provided training for nurses in the United States. To the best of our knowledge, they did not deploy units overseas during war time. Therefore if they were serving in Italy, they would have graduated from the program and would have been serving either in the Army Nurse Corps or in a civilian volunteer organization such as the Red Cross. If the persons in the photograph are wearing uniforms, it may indicate what organization they were a member of at the time the photograph was taken.
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 9 record series relating to U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, to include the Cadet Nurse Corps Files in the Records of the Public Health Service (Record Group 90) that has membership cards for cadets at various institutions, to include St. Mary’s Hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia. These files have been digitized and can be viewed online through the Catalog. However, they do not include photographs of the cadets or information about their service after completing the program.
If the photograph was taken by the Army Signal Corps or another federal government organization, the National Archives may have a copy. Official Photographs of various U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps activities dating from 1940 to 2007 are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). Please contact RDSS via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web site is https://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/photographs-dc.html.
However, if the photograph was taken by a newspaper photographer or a private individual, the National Archives would not have a copy of the photograph or any other information about it.
We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
Thank you. I appreciate such a thorough response. I have sought information from WV sources that you listed regarding photo, date taken, etc. St. Mary's School closed in 1969 and records have yet to be found.( I am a graduate as well.) I was given the photo by another graduate, who while cutting the photo from the newspaper snipped off the date which would be a great assist in locating the original article and photographer. As you may imagine it is an old copy and much of the information attached is faded. Archivists at WVU in Morgantown have also been working with me to discover the original...the old newspapers are on microfiche. Nor do the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling WV, who owned the school & hospital have info in their archives.
I will followup on your other suggested resources.
I am writing the history of the school and am aware of the background of the St. Mary nurses who were indeed cadets under the auspices of Dr. Herman Fischer, one of the staff physicians at the former St. Mary's hospital.
Of course, I will place the photo in the book and add a note in the caption about the date, etc.
You have been very helpful. Keep me in mind if you think of any resources.