Massachusetts Historical Society


Postponed - "The Permanent Prize for Nerve": Examining Women's Postwar Battles with the US Veteran's Bureau


Author: Bridget E. Keown, University of Pittsburgh
Comment: Beth Linker, University of Pennsylvania

This seminar session has been postponed to a later date.

This is a hybrid event. The in-person reception will begin at 4:30 PM.

This paper considers the postwar experiences of disabled or chronically ill veterans of the First World War through an examination of pension files kept by the US Bureau of War Risk Insurance and the Veteran's Bureau. While this work will demonstrate how gendered notions of service, suffering, and recovery influenced the treatment available to both men and women, it will specifically focus on the treatment of women veterans, caretakers, and widows as documented in these files. The pension and insurance system tended to obscure the physical and emotional labor performed by women in the war and postwar period. At the same time, individual investigations frequently made spectacles of women whose behavior transgressed imagined prewar gender norms, or whose testimony disrupted dominant narratives of victory and resilience. These stories challenge familiar historical narratives of war and recovery, while drawing connections to our own postwar present.

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Hybrid Event

The in-person reception starts at 4:30 PM and the seminar will begin at 5:00 PM.

Masks are optional for this event.

The virtual seminar begins at 5:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.

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