Mary H. Staats wrote 30 letters to Dr. H. Allan Novack of Boston, Massachusetts, while serving as a United States Navy nurse in the Solomon Islands and the United States from 1944-1946. She commented on her living conditions, work, education, and health.
Staats wrote her first group of 20 letters while stationed in the Russell Islands between May 1, 1944, and [February 20], 1945. She worked for Mobile Hospital 10 and for United States Fleet Hospital 110. Her letters pertain to many aspects of her experiences, such as the scenery, her victory garden, and her quarters. On August 13, 1944, she recounted visiting a beach on Guadalcanal and hearing a performance by Bob Hope. She often reported on her own health problems and requested that Novack send medicines, clothing, and other items for personal and hospital use. In her letter of December 7, 1944, Staats complained that packages filled with religious papers, candy, and comic strips had taken unnecessary space in the mail, possibly blocking the receipt of more necessary items. Staats wrote one letter to her father, in which she mentioned her interactions with native islanders and radio broadcasts by "Tokyo Rose" (May 12, 1944).
Staats continued to write to Novack after her return to the United States (11 items). On April 11, 1945, and April 22, 1945, she reported on her travels from the Solomon Islands to Coshocton, Ohio, and provided additional information about her work with the 1st Marine Division. While stationed at the United States Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she discussed her own health issues (May 17, 1945) and wrote a 15-page letter with detailed descriptions of her experiences in the Pacific (June 8, 1945). She described nurses' protection and quarters, the effects of excessive temperatures on nurses' health, and medical care, among other subjects. Five letters from Staats's time in Chicago, Illinois (September 30, 1945-May 6, 1946), pertain to the cost of living, courses at Northwestern University, the possibility of pursuing a career in the navy, and gynecological health. She often referred to the G.I. Bill of Rights and its potential effects on her education. A Christmas card is enclosed in her letter of December 8, 1945. Staats wrote additional letters to Novack from Coshocton, Ohio (September 6, 1946), and from Corpus Christi, Texas (August 20, 1947), where she complained about the chief nurse at the United States Naval Hospital.