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Dorothea L. Dix, a Worcester, Massachusetts native, moved to Boston to start a ladies’ school following her father’s death. Following a long stay in Europe, she returned to the United States and became involved in reform activities. She was a…

Jane Gray Cannon Swisshelm was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was a staunch women’s rights activist, partly out of her relationship with her domineering husband, and she wrote for several newspapers and started her own, writing on…

At the start of the war Isabella Morrison Fogg, a Maine resident, applied to the governor and the surgeon-general of the state to become a field agent for the state. In September 1861 she was given permission to go into the field, where she collected…

Julia Wheelock was born in Avon, Ohio, and lived in Michigan at the start of the Civil War. Her brother joined the Eighth Michigan Infantry, and when he was wounded in the fall of 1862, she traveled to Washington to find him. Though she found him to…

Amanda Colburn Farnham was born in West Glover, Vermont. When her brother joined the Third Vermont Regiment, she followed him into the army. She enlisted in July 1861 and was appointed hospital matron, though only a few months later she was dropped…

Perhaps the most famous nurse of the Civil War, Clara Harlowe Barton was present on many battlefields. Born in North Oxford, Massachusetts, when the war broke out she turned her attention to the sick and wounded men of the Union. Though she worked…

Mary Morris Husband, a Philadelphia resident, was married with children at the start of the war. She began her work in Philadelphia hospitals. Later, the Sanitary Commission appointed her the superintendent of the transports that were taking sick and…

Helen Louise Gilson was born in Boston, and lived in Chelsea, Massachusetts at the start of the war. She was active in organizing Soldiers’ Aid Societies in Chelsea, and helped collect and transport supplies to the front. She appealed to Dorothea…

Sarah “Aunt Becky” Palmer was a young widowed woman with two children at the start of the war. She left her hometown of Ithaca, New York in the spring of 1862 to follow two of her brothers, who had joined the 109th New York Volunteers.…

Emelina Pheiades Keeler Spencer, a resident of Oswego, New York, began relief work when her husband R. H. Spencer enlisted in the army following Antietam. As a result, she became a state relief agent for New York, associated with her husband’s…