Our African American Nurses

JPK Huson 1863

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#1
This is very cool. I'll have some threads on individuals- have been lax on all our nurses but this thread is the result of a few things. First- would like to begin correcting the overall impression our ' contraband ', fellow citizens were comprehensively some frightened, fleeing, helpless, hopeless mass. Did most require assistance in the same way refugees feeling persecution or heck, a wildfire consuming everything they owned would? Sure. If they got it, would have been welcome.

' Contraband' must have been at least less annoying than ' slave' although now our fellow citizens were legalities of war. Butler became enraged at endless piddling, the South's insistence on designating humans as actual property so gave the South language it could understand.


Photographers recorded images for some reason picked over by future generations of the comprehensive conditions our fellow citizens found themselves in as a result of being disallowed human-ship. Some heckish. Have yet to see a cowed expression. Every image claimed as proof represents untold numbers with the same story and there's an awful lot of this- people shedding centuries of enforced educational privation and launching themselves into the nearest, deepest, densest ocean where skills and untapped gifts could finally be acknowledged and rewarded. Gosh. Sounds like Life.
nurse 13th mass jay.jpg

Nurses serving with the 13th Massachusetts, men and women would serve in medical capacities. I'm not saying all the adults in this photo were nurses, some were there is not way of ascertaining how many.

We continually hear people described as ' laborers' only. Just fine as an occupation if that were true but it's not.
nrs1 nashville.JPG

A hospital in Nashville, black nurses getting a rare breath of fresh air.


African-American-Civil-War-Nurses.jpg

Snipped from a photo ( LoC ) from the Sanitary Commission, DC


https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/bindingwounds/nursing.html

" Ann Stokes was first taken aboard a Union Naval vessel as "contraband" in 1863. As was typical of most former slaves, Stokes could not read or write, but was hired as a nurse. She worked under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Cross nuns aboard the U.S.S. Red Rover, the first Union Naval hospital ship. Stokes became the first African American woman to serve on board a U.S. military vessel and was among the first women to serve as nurses in the Navy. " and

"Susie King Taylor's memoirs are the only known published recollection of the experiences of an African American nurse during the Civil War. "

From the website, with apologies for the word ' slave'. Never use it unless I flake- in 2015 it seems archaic because I know better. Nobody yell at me, am not witching at anyone who does, it's between me and my own head.
 

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Yulie

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#2
This is very cool. I'll have some threads on individuals- have been lax on all our nurses but this thread is the result of a few things. First- would like to begin correcting the overall impression our ' contraband ', fellow citizens were comprehensively some frightened, fleeing, helpless, hopeless mass. Did most require assistance in the same way refugees feeling persecution or heck, a wildfire consuming everything they owned would? Sure. If they got it, would have been welcome.
YES! There is often something missing when discussions about contrabands and slaves occurs. These people did not just stand around under the umbrella of a descriptive title. They were functioning human-beings who contributed to the preservations of themselves and, in many cases, others during the Civil War. Whenever I give discussions on African Americans in the antebellum and reconstruction eras I strongly emphasize that these people did not stand around wringing their hands saying "Woe is me." During the Civil War they contributed to their own freedom and were contract or volunteer nurses, cooks, seamstresses, teamsters, laundresses/laundrymen, teachers etc etc. As you have provided, there are images of these people. I have used these same photographs in my discussions. Susie B. Taylor is the only person thus far known to give a personal description of nursing. But, famous folks like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Keckley also gave assistance to the wounded. ... And many many more. Angela Y. Walton-Raji remembered some of these African American nurses in her blog, USCT Chronicles, "Remembering Black Nurses in the Civil War." See http://usctchronicle.blogspot.com/2012/07/colored-contract-nurses-in-civil-war.html

-Yulie
 

rosefiend

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#4
Here's another fine lady (and I wish I hadn't found out about her so late) -- Lucy Nichols. This Wikipedia entry on her is very thorough:

Here she is with a group of soldiers from the 23rd Indiana.

Lucy_Higgs_Nichols_Original.jpg


Group of Civil War and Spanish–American War soldiers and veterans at a reunion in English, Indiana in 1898. Several are identified: front row, 4th from left is Lemuel Ford; front row, 10th from left (dark hat and beard): Winfield Scott Sloan; 2nd row from front, 1st on left: Peter Gottfried; 2nd row 6th from left (long white beard): Henry McCowan; 2nd row, 7th from left (African-American woman): Lucy Nichols; 2nd row, man with largest drum: Tim Ingle. Stuart B. Wrege History Room, New Albany - Floyd County Public Library
 
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#5
I'm amazed they wore hoops.
Nearly all women wore hoops. They were far lighter weight than the usual (pre-hoop) 4-6 petticoats, were cooler in hot weather, and really saved on laundry and ironing. A "working hoop" would be 70" to 90" in diameter. They were also cheap, so even the poorest could afford one! A used cage would be even cheaper.

Even in cases where hoops were not worn, a woman would put one on to have her photo taken. In the third from top photo, I suspect this is the case for the middle lady, who is wearing a much wider hoop than would be used for working. That one looks pretty wide for getting between hospital beds!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#7
YES! There is often something missing when discussions about contrabands and slaves occurs. These people did not just stand around under the umbrella of a descriptive title. They were functioning human-beings who contributed to the preservations of themselves and, in many cases, others during the Civil War. Whenever I give discussions on African Americans in the antebellum and reconstruction eras I strongly emphasize that these people did not stand around wringing their hands saying "Woe is me." During the Civil War they contributed to their own freedom and were contract or volunteer nurses, cooks, seamstresses, teamsters, laundresses/laundrymen, teachers etc etc. As you have provided, there are images of these people. I have used these same photographs in my discussions. Susie B. Taylor is the only person thus far known to give a personal description of nursing. But, famous folks like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Keckley also gave assistance to the wounded. ... And many many more. Angela Y. Walton-Raji remembered some of these African American nurses in her blog, USCT Chronicles, "Remembering Black Nurses in the Civil War." See http://usctchronicle.blogspot.com/2012/07/colored-contract-nurses-in-civil-war.html

-Yulie

Thank you SO much!! So much, too much here to not become breathless- it's an overwhelming topic. Elizabeth Keckley is always written off as ' Mary Lincoln's dress maker ' for instance. Whoa, what?? There genuinely must be a whole, new take on Elizabeth- anyone interested in her should have read her book. If her book is read you are flattened. Keckley was a flaming genius- ( I know I'm preaching to the choir, Yulie- women of the era, black women especially receive cursory acknowledgement- if any. Legends grew around women like Elizabeth Thorn of Gettysburg for instance, untrue, she's back there 150 years ago too busy to correct the nonsense ) She single-handedly supported a slug of a man and his entire family sewing- when ' owned', had to double her work through the threat they'd send her very elderly mother out to work. Some ' man '. Mary Lincoln is a tiny part of her story; she gives herself small credit for her work with soldiers and the society she kept going which helped people who literally had nothing get a foothold. I'll shush, sorry on length, need a whole, new thread for Elizabeth. Did one some time ago, could kick myself because it was before really understanding how astonishing her life was. People only wanted to hear about Mary Lincoln so she's only discussed in connection. Crazy.

"Whenever I give discussions on African Americans in the antebellum and reconstruction eras I strongly emphasize that these people did not stand around wringing their hands saying "Woe is me." "

This! 4 million people- like the biggest natural disaster the planet ever had displacing a population. Lost everything with no Red Cross coming in, no hotels, blankets, food allowance. I used this for the Irish getting the blazes away from oppression too, but same thing; like dropping a Mentos into Coke, seems to me that's where an awful lot of freedom transpired, free to contribute gifts, talents and skills and boy, it happened quickly if these are an indication. All that energy, poof, spilled over to the benefit of those in need. Found a ton of photos from Beaufort, black children stuffing schools to the rafters, a lot being taught by black teachers. Very cool stuff.

Thanks for the link; a lot of our nurses are nameless, had not-much on black nurses initially.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#8
Here's another fine lady (and I wish I hadn't found out about her so late) -- Lucy Nichols. This Wikipedia entry on her is very thorough:

Here she is with a group of soldiers from the 23rd Indiana.

Lucy_Higgs_Nichols_Original.jpg


Group of Civil War and Spanish–American War soldiers and veterans at a reunion in English, Indiana in 1898. Several are identified: front row, 4th from left is Lemuel Ford; front row, 10th from left (dark hat and beard): Winfield Scott Sloan; 2nd row from front, 1st on left: Peter Gottfried; 2nd row 6th from left (long white beard): Henry McCowan; 2nd row, 7th from left (African-American woman): Lucy Nichols; 2nd row, man with largest drum: Tim Ingle. Stuart B. Wrege History Room, New Albany - Floyd County Public Library
HOLY gee whiz Rosefiend, thank you!! What a terrific photo honoring her, too- the men sure as blazes did, gives me chills! You know that photo, an elderly Civil War veteran and an elderly nurse, he's kissing her cheek? Says it all along with photos like this, Lucy's story the more poignant as a black woman who could easily have encountered resistance in her occupation, with white troops. Maybe she did and it isn't known but it's very possible a nurse is a nurse is a nurse sometimes, a wounded, frightened young man does not see further than the compassion.
 

Pat Young

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#9
This is very cool. I'll have some threads on individuals- have been lax on all our nurses but this thread is the result of a few things. First- would like to begin correcting the overall impression our ' contraband ', fellow citizens were comprehensively some frightened, fleeing, helpless, hopeless mass. Did most require assistance in the same way refugees feeling persecution or heck, a wildfire consuming everything they owned would? Sure. If they got it, would have been welcome.

' Contraband' must have been at least less annoying than ' slave' although now our fellow citizens were legalities of war. Butler became enraged at endless piddling, the South's insistence on designating humans as actual property so gave the South language it could understand.


Photographers recorded images for some reason picked over by future generations of the comprehensive conditions our fellow citizens found themselves in as a result of being disallowed human-ship. Some heckish. Have yet to see a cowed expression. Every image claimed as proof represents untold numbers with the same story and there's an awful lot of this- people shedding centuries of enforced educational privation and launching themselves into the nearest, deepest, densest ocean where skills and untapped gifts could finally be acknowledged and rewarded. Gosh. Sounds like Life.
View attachment 82817
Nurses serving with the 13th Massachusetts, men and women would serve in medical capacities. I'm not saying all the adults in this photo were nurses, some were there is not way of ascertaining how many.

We continually hear people described as ' laborers' only. Just fine as an occupation if that were true but it's not.
View attachment 82816
A hospital in Nashville, black nurses getting a rare breath of fresh air.


View attachment 82818
Snipped from a photo ( LoC ) from the Sanitary Commission, DC


https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/bindingwounds/nursing.html

" Ann Stokes was first taken aboard a Union Naval vessel as "contraband" in 1863. As was typical of most former slaves, Stokes could not read or write, but was hired as a nurse. She worked under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Cross nuns aboard the U.S.S. Red Rover, the first Union Naval hospital ship. Stokes became the first African American woman to serve on board a U.S. military vessel and was among the first women to serve as nurses in the Navy. " and

"Susie King Taylor's memoirs are the only known published recollection of the experiences of an African American nurse during the Civil War. "

From the website, with apologies for the word ' slave'. Never use it unless I flake- in 2015 it seems archaic because I know better. Nobody yell at me, am not witching at anyone who does, it's between me and my own head.
Thanks for this.
 

18thVirginia

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Ann Stokes was first taken aboard a Union Naval vessel as "contraband" in 1863. As was typical of most former slaves, Stokes could not read or write, but was hired as a nurse. She worked under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Cross nuns aboard the U.S.S. Red Rover, the first Union Naval hospital ship. Stokes became the first African American woman to serve on board a U.S. military vessel and was among the first women to serve as nurses in the Navy.
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/bindingwounds/nursing.html

redrover hospital.png

Illustration of the interior view of a hospital ward on the U.S.S. Red Rover, Harper's Weekly, May 9, 1863
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#12
Lucy Higgs Nichols at GAR reunion in 1898.

View attachment 88368

From 1898 photo of Indiana reunion.
Great photo, 18th, where did you find it? Any idea which reunion? Read somewhere ( I think a soldier's journal, can't swear to it ) the bond between nurses and soldiers was something they did feel their entire lives. You read what both went through and it's unsurprising. Lucy's face here seems to reflect that, you know?
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Ann Stokes was first taken aboard a Union Naval vessel as "contraband" in 1863. As was typical of most former slaves, Stokes could not read or write, but was hired as a nurse. She worked under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Cross nuns aboard the U.S.S. Red Rover, the first Union Naval hospital ship. Stokes became the first African American woman to serve on board a U.S. military vessel and was among the first women to serve as nurses in the Navy.
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/bindingwounds/nursing.html

View attachment 88369
Illustration of the interior view of a hospital ward on the U.S.S. Red Rover, Harper's Weekly, May 9, 1863

Pretty cool, she argued the pension people into the ground. By herself- not just as a woman, as a black woman, a nurse, she was able to receive a pension. Our army nurses rarely did. The process was too complicated, arduous, depended on the testimony of doctors either dead or difficult to find. Ann caught up with her world at the speed of light- from being enslaved to arguing her own case, to winning it.


" Ann Bradford Stokes was remarkable in several ways. She was one of the first women ever enlisted as active duty personnel in the United States Navy. In addition, although some 15 African American women were enlisted in the Navy at that time, she is the only one who is known to have applied for a pension. Most remarkable, she received a pension based on her own military service. "

- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/stokes-ann-bradford-1830-1903#sthash.lWOkoUcp.dpuf
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#14
I've mentioned Dr. Lee before, think it's ok to bring her into this thread despite not being a nurse. A female doctor, she cared for displaced black citizens right after Appamattox. She is another female doctor who requires her own thread- there are several. Dr. Lee is the first I'll do because her story is of course the most delightful. Tough for a female in medical school? OI! My grgrandmother's sister was a doctor, born 1863. She got a lot of flack, was bullied, demeaned, pushed out of several small hospitals. That was a full generation past Dr. Lee's diploma and Dr. Lee faced race prejudice. This woman was a genuine heroine.

Lee, Dr. Rebecca.jpg


" Dr. Rebecca Lee
, the first black woman to receive a medical degree, did not serve with the U.S. Army during the Civil War although she was active immediately after the war ended. Lee received her medical degree in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College. After the surrender of Richmond, Virginia, to Union troops in April, 1865, she went to the city to work with volunteer agencies at the contraband camp there. She subsequently married a Dr. Crumpler and returned to Boston where she practiced for several years. In 1883 she published a self-help medical book for women (A Book of Medical Discourses). Rebecca Lee Crumpler died in 1895 in Boston at age 63. "
http://www.blackpast.org/perspectives/african-americans-medicine-civil-war-era#sthash.gdbiELRL.dpuf
 

18thVirginia

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#15
Great photo, 18th, where did you find it? Any idea which reunion? Read somewhere ( I think a soldier's journal, can't swear to it ) the bond between nurses and soldiers was something they did feel their entire lives. You read what both went through and it's unsurprising. Lucy's face here seems to reflect that, you know?
Sorry I didn't make it clearer that I cropped this out of the larger one posted above,
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#17
Bust of Lucy Higgs Nichols at the Carnegie Center in New Albany Indiana. I took this photo a few weeks ago while visiting. More information and images can be seen here: http://www.carnegiecenter.org/remembered-life-lucy-higgs-nichols/ Great exhibit and permanent too!
xQIto9.png

Thank you! Exactly what we need for the thread, and for International Women's Day. That's a terrific bust, btw- artist did a wonderful job of rendering her image without ruining her ' portrait ', as it were, you know? Busts too often come across as either fierce of deadpan- or gargoyles! She's very warm in this, which you would expect- and love seeing an artist capture. Thanks very much for posting!
 

AshleyMel

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#19
At the last event I attended I spent some time speaking with a living historian who portrayed Dr. Rebecca Lee. She was absolutely wonderful! Her insight and knowledge was very beneficial and Hubby and I learned much. Found out she also had spent time in my neck of the woods back home and we bonded over remembrances of Low Country cooking! It's a small world in California!
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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#20
At the last event I attended I spent some time speaking with a living historian who portrayed Dr. Rebecca Lee. She was absolutely wonderful! He insight and knowledge was very beneficial and Hubby and I learned much. Found out she also had spent time in my neck of the woods back home and we bonded over remembrances of Low Country cooking! It's a small world in California!
Must have been crazy cool, envious! LOVE Dr. Lee! This kind of thing is why reenacting is such a valuable gift to all of us, could everyone just shush and go look.
 

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