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Janet Erickson papers

Identifier: ua01153

Scope and Content

The Janet Erickson papers consist of a folder of personal photographs, a folder of personal information and 27 folders of correspondence to her family. The correspondence contains only Janet’s letters to her family and not their letters to Janet. The letters are arranged chronologically. Her parents kept every letter Janet wrote and marked each envelope with the dates the letter was written and received.

Erickson’s letters begin with her training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and continue from posts in North Africa, Italy, Miami Beach, FL and Vancouver, WA. Her letters describe her friends and fellow-nurses, doctors and patients. Erickson also describes life in the Army with detailed descriptions of food, clothes, quarters and transport. Some of her letters are supplemented with cartoon sketches that humorously illustrate her life in the army. There is a break in the correspondence between February 18, 1945 and May 21, 1945 when she returned to St. Paul for a leave. Her last letter home is dated October 12, 1945.

Erickson’s letters also document her ongoing interests in civilian life including movies, books, knitting, clothes, perfume, shopping and cooking.


  • 1942-1945


Language of Materials

Collection materials in English

Access to Materials

This collection is stored at an off-site facility and requires 3-5 business days for retrieval. Email to request access. Do not make travel arrangements or plans to visit Andersen Library without making prior arrangements with University Archives staff.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Janet Erickson (1919-1993)

Janet Erickson, graduate nurse (1941), B.S. (1947) University of Minnesota; M.A. (1952) University of Michigan. Served in the army's nursing corps and was stationed at the Army's 26th General Hospital during World War II.

Janet Erickson was born on November 2, 1919 to Clara and Enoch “Nick” Erickson. She had one sister Elizabeth (referred to in the correspondence as Betty, Bet, Lizzy and Liz). The Ericksons lived on St. Paul’s West Side at 108 West Isabel until April 1942 when they moved to 118 Prospect Boulevard. Janet Erickson enrolled at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1937 as student in the College of Science, Literature and the Arts. In the fall of 1938 she transferred to the nursing program and graduated as Graduate Nurse on June 14, 1941. In early 1942 Erickson joined the army’s nursing corps and left St. Paul in February for training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

After completing the Army’s training course Erickson was sent overseas in October 1942. Erickson landed in England in mid October and was sent on to North Africa in February 1943 where the Army’s 26th General Hospital was formed. Erickson served in Northern Africa in Algeria and Tunisia until December 1943. In December the 26th General Hospital (also known as Base Hospital #26) was transferred to Italy where its members served until February 1945.

Erickson was on leave from February 18, 1945 until May 21, 1945. In late May Erickson left St. Paul for a temporary station at Miami Beach, Florida. While in Florida, Janet was processed out of the 26th General Hospital and awaited new orders. On June 17, 1945 Erickson was transferred to Vancouver, Washington where she would spend the duration of the war. Janet Erickson returned to St. Paul in the fall of 1945.

After the war Erickson continued to work as a nurse and in the summer of 1946 she returned to the University of Minnesota where she enrolled in the College of Education. Erickson earned a B.S. in Nursing Education on March 20, 1947. Upon completion of this degree Erickson worked as a teacher and surgical ward supervisor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing. Erickson earned an M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1952. During the 1950s Erickson taught at Schools of Nursing at Syracuse University and the University of California in San Francisco.

In 1966 Erickson joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and worked in Sierra Leone and in 1970 she joined the World Health Organization (WHO). Erickson worked for WHO until 1979 and served as a teacher and nurse at posts in India and Thailand. In retirement Erickson served as an interpreter at both the James J. Hill House and Alexander Ramsey House. Erickson died in Frankfurt, Germany while traveling home from the Far East on March 29, 1993.

Historical Note

The 26th General Hospital was established in the spring of 1943 near Constantine, Algeria in northern Africa. Faculty from the University of Minnesota’s Medical and Nursing schools served as officers along with enlistees from Fort Snelling and Fort Niagara, New York. The 26th treated German infantrymen who had served under General Rommel and Italian and German prisoners of war. In addition to combat wounds, hospital staff treated soldiers suffering from dysentery, diarrhea and malaria.

In December 1943 the hospital moved from northern Africa to a damaged hospital building near Bari, Italy. In 1944 the hospital treated nearly 17,000 patients and suffered only 45 fatalities. Many of the soldiers treated were American airmen stationed in southern Italy. In late 1944 and early 1945, the hospital staff examined more than 5,000 liberated Allied prisoners of war. In June 1945, the 26th General Hospital, the oldest general hospital in the Mediterranean Theater, received a Meritorious Unit Service Plaque for outstanding service. Soon thereafter many of the personnel, patients, and supplies were transferred to the 45th General Hospital near Naples. The last personnel of the 26th General Hospital returned to the United States in October 1945. (Source: Wilson, Leonard G. Medical Revolution in Minnesota: A History of the University of Minnesota Medical School. St. Paul: Midewiwin Press, 1989).


1 box (1.0 cubic foot)


The collection consists of the letters Janet Erickson wrote to her family during World War II. Janet Erickson trained as a nurse at the University of Minnesota and served in the Army’s 26th General Hospital.

Physical Location

Off-site (WBOB)

Source of acquisition

The collection was donated to University Archives on September 18, 2003 by Carolyn Earle.

Related Material in University Archives

U.S. Army General Hospital No. 26 records

Other Related Material

Erickson gave her University of Minnesota nursing uniform to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Janet Erickson Papers, 1942-1945
Greta Bahnemann; updated by Karen Spilman
September 2003; updated July 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area