SPEAKER: Today it's my very great pleasure to introduce Carol Kammen, our Tompkins County historian since the year 2000 and my personal friend much longer than that, because we shared a Cub Scout den many years ago. And I can tell you that that is a tie that never withers.
Carol has been an active contributor to Ithaca's local history scene for over 40 years through her newspaper columns in the Ithaca Journal and many [INAUDIBLE] publications, which are far too numerous for me to mention today. But let me just tell you about a couple. In 2012, the Encyclopedia of Local History came out, which she had edited the second edition. And in 2009, a book, Part and Apart, the African-American Experience at Cornell from 1865 to 1945, a very important contribution.
25 years ago last May, she organized what we would now call a crowdsourced event, which people wrote in and sent in their comments about what they were doing on that day, May 17 of 1988. And this year they repeated the project, 25 years later. And I suppose there'll be a publication from that sometime soon.
Carol is the recipient of many awards. She's been named the New York State public historian of the year in 2004. Last year her contributions to the community were recognized by the Laura Holmberg Award, which is given by the Women's Fund in the Tompkins County Community Foundation.
She is also currently co-chair of the Tompkins County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Committee. And today she will speak to us on a topic relevant to that-- local women go to war, Civil War nurses 1861 to 1865. Thank you, Carol.
CAROL KAMMEN: What Judith didn't tell you is that we made our Cub Scouts drink sumac tea, which was awful, awful. But we did have a good time.
I've come to this topic because the county established a Civil War Commission in order to commemorate the War and also to link some of the old problems to some of the problems we have today. And as I sat around and heard everybody on the Commission talk about having encampments and reenactments and cannons, I thought, we got to do something about this. There were more than just men who went to war. And so what I tried to do is inject gender into this program.
So what I'd like to do today is tell you the histories of four local women. And I'll do it very briefly. Then I'd like to tell you why I think they're significant and worth knowing about. And then I'd like to tell you what it is we're doing about them.
My husband is here. He will stand up when he says, I can't take any more. And he'll shut me up. Otherwise, we'll be here for about a week and a half. So settle in.
The first person from Tompkins County-- and firsts are not always important. But in this case it's rather interesting. The first person from Tompkins County to enlist to serve after the Civil War started in April of 1861 was a woman. Her name was Susan Hall. She grew up in Ulysses, New York.
She had gone-- she had taken care of her family. She was one of a number of children. She was the youngest child. When her mother died, she took care of her father until his death.
And then the family sold off the Ulysses farm. And she basically had no home. She could, of course, go and live with her siblings. But this was-- Susan Hall was a rather enterprising lady. And she went off to-- excuse me-- to be a missionary teacher to the Choctaw Indians.
While she was there, she met another woman named Harriet Dada who was from basically Cortland County, Fulton County. And she ends up in Syracuse. She and Harriet teach and-- of the Choctaw Indians.
And when their term is up, they went to New York City. And they attended Elizabeth Blackwell's women and children-- I'm pretending that's the mic. I realize it's not-- women and children's infirmary to become doctors.
They were about to graduate when the War started. So in 1861, they went to the big woman's meeting at Cooper Union where Elizabeth Blackwell said, we need to have nurses. We need you to volunteer to be nurses. We need you to come forward and go to war.
This was unusual. And but Susan and Harriet had both prepared to be doctors. They both said, we will go as doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell said, they won't have you. The men would never allow women to be doctors, even if they were desperate. By the end of the War, there were a few women doctors.
But Harriet and Susan were told to take training at Bellevue Hospital and prepare to learn how to dress wounds and to become war nurses. They attended the training. They got a call from Dorothea Dix who was the superintendent of nurses appointed by the Army Surgeon General. She said, come quickly.
They took the train from New York to Washington, DC. And they went immediately to the Alexandria Hospital where they nursed. These two women were at war for four years and two months, almost more than any other participant.
They are not famous because they were nurses. They are not famous at all. But I think they're significant in that their desire to make something of their lives to what would have been called maiden ladies is interesting. And their choice of medicine as a career is also interesting.
Dorothea Dix said, you are needed in Alexandria. And Georgeanna Woolsey, who also was a part of this first group of two dozen women who were trained, said, you have no idea of the unsettled state of things we found. We had wounds to dress with water every hour, faces, hands, and feet to wash, beds to arrange, food and water to distribute, medicines to give, and everything to do for the sick and wounded. For weeks, days and night, we were kept constantly busy with no help.
They served from the Battle of Bull Run until the end of the War. In 2012-- and we know about Susan because of Georgeanna Woolsey's letters, which mentioned her as part of a group and because Harriet Dada at the end of the War wrote an account of the War. And she and Susan served together. And whenever they weren't together, she would account for where both of them are. So by reference from Harriet, we can learn about Susan.
In 2012 we nominated Susan Hall to become one of New York's Women of Distinction. I would like to say she was the only one. But it was book about 800 pages. But still, she's in it now. So we have found a way of honoring her.
Of course, the truth is, women always nursed. This was-- the nursing program at Bellevue was only for two dozen women. But women have always nursed. They've nursed at home. They've done private nursing.
And there were ads in the newspapers throughout the 1850 and '60s saying, baby nurse and seamstress. That makes her doubly useful. So women have always nursed and sometimes out of their own home.
Nursing in war time, however, was a very different affair. Male nurses-- there were trained male nurses. There were some men who weren't trained but who wanted to nurse rather than go to war, which was probably a good option.
And the walking wounded also nursed during the War. They were there. If they could walk around, they could do the things that needed to be done.
During the Crimean War, 38 women from Britain went to bind up wounds on the battlefield. Florence Nightingale was one of them. And we remember her as the lady with the lamp, the lady who went out with the lamp at night to find the soldiers on the battlefield and to identify them to be brought into hospital.
She looked at hospital regulations and how training should happen. And in 1858, she issued a book called Notes on Matters Affecting Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration in the British Army. And then in 1860, she published what was a very influential book called Notes on Nursing-- What it is, and What it is Not. It was an attempt to bring a sense of order and system to nursing and to introduce women as capable people who could be on the battlefield.
In 1861 when the American Civil War started, Surgeon General Hammond was finally convinced that if he hired or appointed women nurses, it would free up more men for the battlefield. So it was because women could be useful that he accepted them. But he accepted them under some very stringent conditions.
They had to be between 35 years old and 50. They had to have strong health, no chronic diseases. They had to be matronly persons of experience, which is a very loaded term, and I'll explain in a minute.
They had to have good conduct or superior education. They had to have serious disposition and industry, obedience to rigid instructions. They had to take limited luggage. If you had a lot of stuff, you couldn't be a nurse.
They needed a letter of referral from someone the Surgeon General would think appropriate. So you couldn't get it from your best friend or your mother. They had to dress in plain brown, gray, or black dresses with no ornamentation.
And I know from the records what one of our local nurses did was she had a dress that she pinned together. So every night she could unpin it and wash it. And it would dry more quickly. And you could get the vermin out that way.
They were to be given $0.40 a day, their [? sustenance, ?] which wasn't always very good, and transportation from place to place. What the Surgeon General was looking for was old, ugly widows. The problem was, if you were to introduce young women, especially young unmarried women, you would be introducing them into a totally socially unacceptable situation.
A hospital is a grim place. It was grimmer in 1861. Thank goodness, our hospitals have changed. They were places where men were wounded in many places on the body. And what the Surgeon General had to do was to make sure that in no way could the women who nursed be perceived as prostitutes.
So there were lots of regulations. There were hours when the women could be in the hospital and hours when they were not allowed to be there. And what they could do was very restricted.
The second woman from our locality who went is named Sarah Anne Graham Palmer. Now, she's a really wonderful character. Her brothers enlisted in August of 1862. Sarah Anne was 31 years old, under the limit. But she was a widow-- good point, bad point, good point, bad point.
But she had two daughters. She could not afford to support them. So her daughters were living with her brother on Bostwick Road. As a domestic servant living in a house in Lansing, she was making about $4.00 a month plus room and board.
Her brothers asked her to go with them. They said, come with us to the battlefield. Be with us if we fall sick or are wounded or worse. We want you with us.
And so she went. She became a regimental nurse for the 109th New York Infantry, which meant that she was not under Dorothea Dix's Superintendent of Nurses purview. She stayed with her regiment. And whenever anybody tried to get her with another regiment, she'd say, no, I have to go back to the 109th. She's very faithful to them.
She kept explicit diaries of her accounts. She placed them in a trunk near the end of the War with her remaining clothing and lots of pins probably. She put the trunk in the mail, and it was never seen again.
She had with her her last diary. And when she got home, she wrote out an account from memory and using her last diary. And she wrote about her trials of living over the amputation ward-- which could not have been good-- of bad food, of no food, of food with maggots in it.
She talked about the rats and the mice who were in and out of her tent. She talked about the tent falling down in the rain. She talked about cold. She talked about the little stove that a soldier gave her that she was very grateful for because it warmed her up.
She published a book called Aunt Becky's Army-Life. And she published it in 1867 as a way of making some money. But why Aunt Becky? Well, there's a nice story attached.
Sarah Anne Palmer walked around the wards. And one young man who was wounded kept saying, Mother. And she turned to him finally and said, I'm not your mother.
And he said, well, you're just like my Aunt Becky. You're so feisty. And the name stuck. So she became known as Aunt Becky and published her memoir as Aunt Becky.
She wrote about the men she nursed, those she saved, and those she lost. And each one she lost really took a toll. She talked of her loneliness, being the only woman in a whole regiment of men, 800 men.
She longed for a cup of tea. She thought, I'd never think that going to have a cup of tea with another woman would mean so much to me. She'd longed for the company of other women. She appreciated the respectful treatment every man in her regiment gave her.
She railed against the blindness of women who didn't come to war to help. She said, had we more women, we would have saved more men, because the surgeons could cut. And that's all they really could do. But they couldn't nurse.
Surgeons were too high above nursing. But she discovered that war was a place for women, even though people told her it would be disgraceful for her to go. Times have changed.
She railed against the mindlessness of government actions, the lack of food, the lack of housing for the injured, the hastily built hospitals. She was in charge of 800 men who came in and out of her hospital at various times, many because of wounds, some because they were dying, most because they were dying of disease. Disease was a terrible killer during the War.
She talked about the bureaucratic arrogance of men who had small power, ships' captains who said she couldn't go on board because she was a woman and this was a transport for the 109th. And she would say, but I'm the nurse for the 109th. But the ship captain wouldn't let her on until somebody bribed him.
Of the quarter masters who wouldn't let her in the kitchen, because the fear for the quarter masters was, if women got into the kitchens and the store houses, they would want the key to the store houses. And the store houses were exceedingly important, because the quarter masters were a-- had access to the alcohol, which was used liberally in the hospitals. And they were drinking it and selling it. And they didn't want a woman in charge, because they knew no woman would give them alcohol.
She railed especially against the doctors who would go through a ward. And when the doctors-- who were working under terrible circumstances. When the doctors would say, go past him, I've given up on him, she would say, I will raise him up.
And I will raise him up is something you hear in almost every nurse's account. I will raise him up. They didn't always, but often they did.
And once she was called to raise up, she was called over to a soldier's bed, and the surgeon said, he's past help. Go help that other guy. And she looked and saw it was her brother. And she did raise him up, proving that good nursing is as important as good physicians.
The doctors by and large did not want women in the hospitals. The medical director of the West for the Union Army said, half a dozen of old hags-- for that's what they were-- surrounding a bewildered surgeon, each claiming for her own little necessity, we don't want them. Another said, they are a bunch of dilapidated and shriveled up old maids.
Another doctor wrote, any woman interested in military nursing must be looking for a husband. Sarah Palmer said she didn't want a husband from any one of the men in her troop. She eventually did marry a former soldier, but not from her troop.
Another doctor said, in-- and I think this is a very telling statement-- in behalf of all modesty, I do beseech you to issue an order prohibiting feminine nurses throwing themselves in the arms of the sick and wounded soldiers and lasciviously exciting their animal passions-- the fear that a woman in the nursing room would be destructive.
Harriet Dada recorded that she received cold treatment from the doctors. She reported one said, ladies, there are no ladies in hospitals. Yet some doctors thought the presence of women could be calming to the soldiers, to create patients who would be more tractable and better behaved, which is exactly what they said when they talked about adding women to Cornell.
The women nurses appreciated good doctors. And there were some. But some debated whose patient it was as the patient was on the table undergoing the knife, as they all wrote, or they played and tossed about amputated limbs. There were some doctors who were in it for the money and to stay out of the fighting themselves.
The women countered, because we could not don the uniform of soldiers-- and there were women on the battlefield, but these women were not. They were there as nurses-- and we could not follow the beat of stirring drums, we chose our silent journeys into hospitals and camps. I thought it was my duty to go. And so I went to care for our dear defenders.
Georgeanna Woolsey wrote, no one knows how much opposition, how much ill will, how much unfeeling want of thought these women nurses experienced. Hardly a surgeon received or treated them with common courtesy. Army surgeons determined to make their lives unbearable so that they should be forced to leave.
They must-- the most admirable of the women, the first company, which includes Susan Hall and Harriet Dada, saw the position of the affairs, how the doctors treated them. I have known surgeons who purposely and ingeniously arranged inconveniences with the intention of driving the women away. They were pioneers, those first women. And they gained ground because of their experience.
No one throughout all of this worried about what the experience would be for the women. But there were women who-- women nurses who died on the battlefield. And there were a number of women nurses who died of disease.
The third woman from Tompkins County, or associated with Tompkins County, is named Sophronia Bucklin. Sophronia was from a Newfield family. When the War opened, she was 24 years old and was an attendant or nurse at the Auburn orphanage.
She wrote to Dorothea Dix to volunteer. And Dix immediately said, you may not come. You're too young. It's too hard work. You may not come anywhere near here, which meant that Bucklin immediately got on the train and went down and presented her to Dorothea Dix who said, oh, you're needed in Alexandria, took her immediately to Alexandria. And she began nursing. And she nursed throughout the rest of the War.
She wrote in her memoir, published in 1869 in order to make some money, about the insolence of officials toward women. Sometimes women were not allowed in the kitchens. And the patients went without.
She talked about dismissive doctors with arbitrary rules. One was lecherous, even propositioning the wife of a dying soldier in front of Sophronia Bucklin. And she must have been accepted by Dorothea Dix, even though she was under age, because she was not terribly good looking. And I think that helped. A quartermaster she said stole goods.
And she came into contact with two groups of people she hadn't expected. And the women all talk about this in rather interesting terms. The first group worked with the former slaves, the escaped slaves, who were called contraband. And the women who had no experience dealing with African-Americans were all taken aback at first about how to deal with them.
Some of them-- had Becky lived with a contraband family for a while and had very good relations. But some women had trouble, because Northern women had so little experience dealing with black people. And they wrote about it.
The other group of people she came in contact with were Confederate soldiers. She walked into a room. And there in the one hospital were Confederates. And she said, I'm fighting them. I can't treat them.
And you can hear her thinking, going from, I can't treat them. They're the enemy. They're young men who are injured. I am here as a nurse. I will treat them.
And they came across this interesting trajectory, getting themselves geared up to treat the young Confederates. And they said in the end, we will treat you as we treat everyone else. And they did nurse Confederates. And they did nurse black soldiers eventually.
At one point, Sophronia Bucklin tried to get into the storehouse for extra rations. And the quartermaster wouldn't let her in. So she went in anyway through some back door and stole rations, which then were not checked out.
And the attending surgeon threw her off the hospital. She went back to Dorothea Dix. Dorothea Dix took her right back to the hospital and said, you keep her here. She's a good worker. And you give her what she needs.
The account that Bucklin reports to us is that being refused entry to the pantry, she was told, you will not only not get what you want, you won't get anything because you are nothing but a woman.
The fourth woman from Tompkins County who went to war was Julia Cook. And her circumstances were very different from the others. Julia Cook grew up in Dryden.
In 1861, her son John went to war in the New York Calvary. In 1862, her husband went with the big roundup of soldiers. And in 1863, her husband died in Tennessee of disease. It was called the diarrhea. 1863, her son was wounded but reenlisted and stayed with the War till the end.
And in 1864, Julia Cook went to a Sanitary Commission meeting. Now, the way the War was funded was through the government and through donations. The way the goods got into the War was through government quartermasters buying things and people sending things and through the Christian Commission and the Sanitary Commission in particular. And we had in Tompkins County 18 Sanitary Commission committees. It's just like today, lots of committees.
And the women went. They brought jellies. They brought raspberry syrups. They brought all manner of things that they would then pack into trunks and send down.
The big tug of war was, were they're going to send them to the unit in which their soldiers were? Or were they going to send them to the Sanitary Commission storehouse to be divided equally? They did both. And the Sanitary Commissions in Tompkins County were under the control of a woman named Jane Hardy who did a wonderful job of organizing and getting goods [? themself. ?]
Julia Cook was 41. And she went to a Sanitary Commission meeting where a letter was read from Dorothea Dix saying, we need more nurses. She said, I am free. I'm 41. I'm in the age group. I'm old. I'm a widow. I will-- 41 was older. I mean, she doesn't know about old. I will go to war.
So she went-- she wrote to Dorothea Dix. She was accepted. She went down to Washington where she began to nurse in a disease hospital, immediately got sick, so sick that she was sent to a home to recuperate and then sent back to Dryden. So she was at war for 10 days as a nurse.
I will remind you that Louisa May Alcott was at nurse for-- was nursing for three weeks. And then she got sick and went home and wrote Hospital Sketches, which are really fairly jolly for a war memoir.
At the end of the War, Julia Cook's son came home. Her daughter, who had a child, died. Her son promptly died. And so Julia Cook spent the rest of her life raising this orphaned granddaughter and working as a seamstress.
Finally she became blind. And we know about Julia Cook through two letters that she wrote about her work and getting ill and coming home, and from her pension requests. And I'll get to that in a minute.
So what's the significance of these four women? And there are more people from the county who were involved in the War. But these are the four nurses we found.
For me, the nurses allowed me to put gender into the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Commission-- which I've learned to say-- and to redress the absence, the idea that war is only about men, because the Civil War was about everyone-- everyone was involved-- and to redress the absence of the Civil War nurses from the public record.
In a 12-volume medical history of the war published in the 1870s, of 12 volumes, there are 200 words addressed to the nurses, which seem to me to be inadequate. There has been very good scholarly attention paid more recently. And we're trying to do something here also. The nurses showed that war affected families, that individuals participated in many different ways, and that the nursing-- the nurses were very important.
Most women did not see their work-- most of the nurses did not see their work as professional training. Three of our nurses returned back to the county, married, and moved back into their old domestic lives. One attempted to make her own way. Sophronia Bucklin did not do very well and was supported partially by the poor master in Newfield and partially by the Women's War Relief Committee.
Yet for some women, mostly elite, educated women, after four or five years, they were forced to see the value of their own work. They developed a genuine ability for organization. And they were not willing to fold their useful hands back again when the War was over. Let the old order-- they would not allow the old order to re-establish itself.
So Harriet Dada came back to New York, went to medical school, got her degree. She went all over again and got her degree, and then went and became a physician in Syracuse for the rest of her life.
These women also help us look at governmental decisions based on gender and class primarily having to do with pensions. Civil War pensions really were a national Social Security action program. To fallen soldiers, there were pensions for their families immediately. The veterans could qualify for pensions in 1870.
By 1883, the Women's Relief Corps was trying to get pensions for Civil War nurses. Three of our nurses received pensions by special congressional legislation. Aunt Becky received a pension in 1886. She got $400 outright and then $12 a month, which is the most generous pension I've read of.
Susan Hall received a pension in 1887, $12 a month. And Sophronia Bucklin finally received a pension in 1892. And hers was $12 a month.
Pensions were given to Civil War nurses who were allowed to apply under a law of 1892 if they had been on the rolls for six months as a nurse, if they could prove they had served, if they had someone who would vouch for the fact that they were there. So black women who nursed did not get pensions by and large. Very few did. Women who were classified as laundresses or domestics or kitchen workers did not get pensions, because they were not considered nurses and essential.
In 1903, however, Julia Cook applied for a pension-- the widow in Dryden, blind seamstress, orphan. She got a pension under her husband, under her husband's service, because he died during the War. But Dryden's town supervisor was trying to get her more money, because now that she was blind, she couldn't live alone. And they had to hire someone to live with her.
So why is the Dryden town supervisor going to back to get a pension for Julia Cook? So that Dryden wouldn't have to pay it. They finally got her $20 a month until she died.
These were not a cohesive group of women. They didn't all get along with each other, the Civil War nurses. They were from different classes and different backgrounds.
Georgeanna Woolsey was from a very elite New York City family and Connecticut family. And she certainly would have very little to do with someone like Aunt Becky. But they were all trying to do what they could under their own circumstances.
In Georgeanna Woolsey's case, she would talk to the doctors as inferiors, because socially many of them were. So she knew her place. And she knew she could get away with things that some of the lesser status women could not. Black women were given lots and lots of chores and no recognition and very little pay.
The historian, Jane Schultz, has observed that the battleground in the Civil War between doctors and nurses was the patient's body. Nurses wanted to raise them up or to spare a limb. And we have nurses going to a doctor saying, I will not let you cut off this limb. I know I can save this. For the doctors who were all considered to be surgeons, it was easier to simply amputate and go on to the next patient. The nurses were protective of the soldiers' bodies.
The doctors, on the other hand, resented the challenges to their authority. And you hear them bristling back at these women who shouldn't be talking back to superiors. The doctors were overworked and worked under awful conditions. They were subject to the command of non-medical officers, which they also thought was demeaning to their status as doctors.
Yet we see that the longer a nurse stayed in place, in duty, in a hospital, the more authority she assumed for herself because of experience, and the more authority the doctors would turn over to her. So we have a number of cases where doctors would say to a nurse who had been someplace for a year, year and a half, 18 months, two years, you take over. You know what to do. So there is this accommodation back and forth. But it's the patient's body that is being negotiated in all of this.
The nurses' stated duties were supposed to be light bandaging. They dressed wounds with water every hour. They washed faces and hands. They arranged beds, foods, food and water. They gave medicines. They prayed with the soldiers.
The doctors always told the nurses to tell the soldiers when there was no hope, that they should pray for salvation. The hardest thing I had to do, said Harriet Dada, and as all the nurses said, they obeyed the rules. And they disobeyed them. They did what they had to do.
We also know that there was a great silence about what the nurses did. The doctors didn't talk about what the nurses were doing. But we know that these nurses went out onto the battlefield where they were not supposed to go.
We know that in the hospital, they were treating immediately those patients who were brought to the hospital. Some who had lain in the field for three and up to 12 days came in covered with mud and blood and vermin. We know that they were standing up for the soldiers.
We know that frequently they had to deal with more than just arms and legs and heads. But they never, ever say it. There is this intense silence over the torso of a soldier. The doctors didn't talk about it, about nurses dealing with bodies.
And the nurses, the only time they used the word "bodies" is when they were stacked up dead outside. They never talked about the fact that if the soldier was brought in covered with mud and dirt, they will say, I washed his hands and feet and combed his hair. I think they did a little bit more than that. So it's an interesting kind of silence that tells us something about the conventions of the day, which the women were buying into just as much as the medical personnel.
Woolsey said, at one point, they did not let the young women nurses into the hospital room the first four days after they brought in a great number of soldiers from the field. That was the decision made by the excellent incapable in charge, the doctor. She said, I went in anyway and stayed the entire time and helped.
The women found a way of subverting the rules in order to help, because they knew that their help made a huge difference. This is the beginning of professional nursing. These women are tremendously important because of that. They proved that women had a place in the hospital, on the battlefield if necessary.
The doctors said very little about what was going on with the nurses. And they gave over more and more authority to those who had been there a while. At Gettysburg, Sophronia Bucklin was one of the first of four nurses to arrive on the battlefield.
She said there were dead and injured everywhere. They were lined up like cordwood. I couldn't walk between them. And I started washing their faces and hands and feet. And I combed their hair. We just know she was doing more than that. She was not letting a femoral artery bleed out. You just don't do that.
Harriet Dada wrote continually of the arms and legs and heads. And she tells of severely wounded thighs. But nobody gets any closer to the body than that.
Adelaide Smith finally wrote about someone who had a punctured lung, and the bullet went out his back. So we're getting hints, but we don't get much. The patient's body is almost never mentioned.
So what we're doing in Tompkins County today is remembering these women. We have collected enough money to have four scholarships at TC3 in their very fine nursing program. The first one was given last month in the name of Susan Hall. Two more will be given this spring. And we funded a faculty development award.
And we're very pleased to have that link with TC3, because when you and I go to the hospital, ask around. Most of the people you encountered have trained at TC3 or at IC. I'm just so struck that it's important for us to support that nursing program, because it really is in our own self-interest. The statistics are that 80% of the nurses who graduate from TC3 stay in the locality. So it's to our advantage.
We are also creating a memorial to the four nurses. But we're trying to do something a little bit bigger. Our living memorial is the scholarships. But we'd like to do something physical.
There are very few memorials in this country to Civil War nurses. There's one to Mother Ann Bickerdyke in Illinois. There is one in Washington, DC to the Sisters of Charity.
There's one, a cameo, of Emily Spencer on what is called the Million Dollar Stairway in our capital in Albany. But it's very small, and it's up high. You can't see it. And nobody knows who she is. But she is there.
In 1913, the Ladies' Aid Society at the Dryden Methodist Church decided to erect a stained glass in the name of Julia Cook, the widow who went to war. That stained glass is now in a closet behind a locked door. You can't see it, because they're paneling over it, which is a shame. Boston has erected a monument to Harriet Tubman, who did nurse for a while. So that's in the Boston courthouse.
But there is no national monument to Civil War nurses, nor do I think we in Tompkins County can create a national monument to Civil War nurses. But what we are doing is working with an artist to create silhouettes of nurses. And we think we have enough money, or we hope to have enough money, for five giant silhouettes of nurses, each carrying a lamp, going up the hillside that goes to TC3.
And we want them to be angled so you can see them from the road if you're just passing by, and if you see them, if you go up the TC3, drive into their big parking lot. There will be signs, plaques with information about them. And we will try to put warning signs on the road that what's coming up on the hillside is a Civil War nurse monument.
We have the names of 127 women from New York who received Civil War pensions as nurses. This is 127 out of probably 21,000 names of women who worked in the hospitals. So we are nowhere near being able to identify everybody. But we're hoping to identify enough to make this a moving monument, at least for New York. And I hope next fall you will come out and see it.
Thank you very much.
CAROL KAMMEN: Yeah, be glad to, if I can.
SPEAKER: So thank you very much.
We've received your request
You will be notified by email when the transcript and captions are available. The process may take up to 5 business days. Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions about this request.
Senior lecturer in History and Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen explores the role of women during the Civil War in a November 14, 2013 lecture presented by the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti (CAPE).
The Civil War was fought on the battlefield, but it was also fought in many ways on the home front. Four local women stepped beyond the domestic sphere to become nurses during that war taking their skills into hospitals and battlefields at a time when most people thought war was "no place for a woman."
We can follow their journey through their memoirs, a diary, and letters that detail their experience and give a first-hand look at the origins of the professionalization of the field of nursing. Their journey into and during the war is important to remember as we commemorate the sesquicentennial of that war.