Thursday, September 22, 2016

5 Pioneering Nurses by Paty Jager

While researching for information on the first women doctors, I came across information on some remarkable women who were nurses. Since my mom was a nurse and something I don’t have the stomach or the compassion to do, I am always interested in women who do work in this profession.

Mary Ann Bickerdyke – She was a nurse for the Yankee’s in the Civil War.  She was from Ohio and known as “Mother Bickerdyke” the “Cyclone in Calico”. She was never trained as a nurse. Her personal experience and common sense helped her set up hospitals on the battlefields, on ships, in barns, homes and abandoned buildings.  I’m thinking her Cyclone in Calico came while she set up some three hundred field hospitals for General Ulysses S. Grant’s western armies.  Her duties included nursing, cooking, organizing supplies, and transporting the wounded. She also gathered herbs for poultices and medicines she made.

Susie King Taylor -  An African American woman who accompanied her husband to battle and became a nurse during the Civil War. During this war African American women were accepted as nurses and weren’t treated with prejudice.

Louisa May Alcott -  This novelist was more than a writer. She was a Union nurse. Louisa worked to make the wounded comfortable and keep up their morale. 

Kate Cumming – A Southern nurse who came from well to-do family. Most women in the south who came from families of influence were discouraged from working as a nurse. It was felt to be a degrading occupation. Yet there were many Southern women who became nurses. 

Octavia Bridgewater – Before the flu epidemic following the end of World War I, African American women were banned from the Army Nurse Corps and the Red Cross. After the epidemic there was a need for more nurses. Octavia who was from Helena, Montana was a pioneer black nurse.  When she was refused admissions into a nursing program in her home state, she applied to Lincoln School of Nursing in New York. It was one of the few schools accepting African Americans. She graduated in 1930 and went back to Helena and worked in the hospital there. In the 1940’s she became one of a few black women accepted into the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

Paty Jager writes murder mysteries and steamy romance starring cowboys and Indians.
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Source: Bleed, Blister, and Purge: A History of Medicine on the American Frontier by Volney Steele, M.D.

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