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Newspaper clipping summarizing Mary Walker's career and role in the Civil War.

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

Mary Walker was the only woman physician to serve as a government-commissioned surgeon in the American Civil War. She was appointed contract surgeon for the 52nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in March 1864. In April 1864, Walker was captured by Confederate soldiers and held prisoner for four months in Richmond, Virginia. She was released four months later, in August. In recognition of her services to the Union Army, President Andrew Johnson gave her a Medal of Honor in November 1865. After the Civil War, Walker became president of the National Dress Reform Association and was active in the Central Women’s Suffrage Bureau. She made occasional appearances at Congressional hearings and was quite well-recognized, if not well-known, in Washington, D.C. Walker worked as a clerk in the Pension Office in Washington, D.C., but the job lasted only a year. She was also an outspoken supporter of the temperance movement, and did not approve of chewing tobacco, smoking, or drinking.

Mary Edwards Walker's style of dress was unusual for the time --she preferred pants to dresses--and she was very involved with the women’s dress reform movement. While many admired her work as a surgeon in the Civil War, Walker's strong personality and sometimes impolite manner made people impatient with her and hesitant to support reformist ideas, even if they may have agreed with them. The author of this article reflects this attitude, becoming increasingly dismissive of Walker's post-war personality and ideas.

Creator: The Pittsburg Dispatch

Language: english

Item Number: a026_017

Pages: 1

Size: 5.7 x 11.8cm

Physical Collection: Papers of Lida Poynter ca.1850-1946 (ACC-026), ACC-026

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, 1832-1920

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1866

Women surgeons

Clothing and dress

Pittsburgh, PA