Smithsonian Exhibit Opens – Diary of a Civil War Nurse

Today, the Smithsonian opens an exhibit entitled “Diary of a Civil War Nurse.” The online portion includes several interactive elements for those of us who can’t make it out to the National Mall.

The exhibit highlights the role of American Women who served as nurses during the American Civil War. Specifically, it highlights the records of one woman, Amanda Akin, and her first hand account of what she witnessed.

“It seemed to me this evening, as I sat at my table adding to the list of medicines—writing down name, regiment, list of clothing, etc., of the new arrivals, calmly looking at the poor maimed sufferers carried by, some without limbs, on a ‘stretcher’—that I had forgotten how to feel, . . . it seemed as if I were entirely separated from the world I had left behind.” – Amanda Akin

As did many other militaries of the time, women were not permitted to have a fighting role and, as such, fought for their respective causes in a variety of ways. Thus was born the modern nursing program, and its feminine face. It is an extraordinary story.

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