Ida F. Butler, Red Cross Nurse
Nurses from Hartford, many of them trained at the Hartford and St. Francis Hospital's Nursing Schools, volunteered for service during World War I. The 1919 Hartford City Directory lists 55 nurses in the honor roll of Hartford residents serving the war effort.
The daughter of a Civil War veteran, Ida F. Butler was born March 18, 1868 in Hartford and graduated from the Hartford Hospital Nursing School in 1901. After the outbreak of war she worked recruiting nurses until 1918 when she sailed to France as a Red Cross nurse.
Ida was assigned to the Bureau des Enfants and assigned as a chief nurse at the Children’s Hospital for Acute Cases in Lyon. In a May 1918 letter to a friend in Hartford, she wrote:
“I must tell you of the French children. They are adorable – full of appreciation and affection, and so polite. I love them when they call me Ma Soeur and extend their little mites of hands each morning when I go into the ward.
I found one of 12 the other day patiently holding a little sleeping sister of 6, and he never stirred until she woke up. They have most of them experienced trouble, privation and separation from parents, and our attitude to them must be very different from the attitude of a busy nurse in a large hospital ward. We show them protection and affection. We make them smile and laugh. “
On returning the United States, Ida Butler went to work with the Red Cross in Washington, DC where she served as National Nursing Director from 1936 until her retirement in 1939. She returned to Hartford where she stayed active as a volunteer including as chairman of the Nursing Service of the Connecticut State Defense Council and after the outbreak of World War II chairman of the associate committee of nurses of the Emergency Medical Service of the Governor’s War Council and chair of the nursing recruiting committee of the Hartford Red Cross.
Among Ms. Butler’s honors she received the French Reconnaissance Medal for her children’s work in World War I, the Florence Nightingale Medal of the International Red Cross in 1937 and the Connecticut Distinguished Service Medal for her service to the state during World War II.