Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Photograph of Dr. Mary Walker wearing a top hat and holding an American flag.

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“How Dr. Mary is Remarkable”: A Female Surgeon in the Civil War

Dr. Walker was also a strong advocate for women’s dress reform, movement which began in the middle of the 19th century and whose goals was to change women’s clothing to be more comfortable and practical. She began wearing bloomers [loose-fitting pants, gathered at the ankle and often worn under knee-length dresses] during the Civil War and after the War began wearing “men’s clothing” – trousers and Prince Albert jackets, accompanied by short hair and sometimes a top hat. After the Civil War, Dr. Mary became president of the National Dress Reform Association and was active in the Central Women’s Suffrage Bureau.

Even in her old age, Dr. Mary Walker favored the more comfortable men’s clothing and was an American patriot.

Creator: Paul Thompson

Language: english

Item Number: p2112

Pages: 1

Size: 24.7 x 20cm

Physical Collection: ACC-AHC1

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. A Female Civil War Surgeon: How Dr. Mary is Remarkable. Doctor or Doctress?: Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians. The Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Philadelphia, PA. Date of access.

Walker, Mary Edwards, 1832-1919


Women's clothing

Albany (N.Y.)