Mary Ashton Rice Livermore 18201905

Mary Ashton Rice was born to wealthy white parents in Boston in 1820 and received the education afforded to women of her class. In the early 1840s she spent three years as a tutor to children in Virginia. Her life on a slave plantation during this period opened her eyes to the horrors of slavery and formed in her a hatred of the institution. In 1845, Mary married Universalist minister Daniel Liv-ermore, who shared her belief in abolitionism and temperance. An accomplished author, she published several socially conscious stories that covered topics such as temperance and religion. In 1857, the family moved to Chicago, where Mary Livermore became active in the community and its voluntary organizations. She covered the 1860 Republican National Convention's nomination of Abraham Lincoln for the Northwestern Christian Advocate, the only woman

Mary Livermore worked as director of the Northwestern branch of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, helping to run several Sanitary Fairs. (Library of Congress)

Mary Livermore worked as director of the Northwestern branch of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, helping to run several Sanitary Fairs. (Library of Congress)

Others overcame their reticence and came to different conclusions. Thousands of female nurses performed a wide range of tasks in formal and makeshift hospitals. They comforted and fed patients, helped change bandages, obtained supplies, cooked food, shook out ticks, did laundry, cleaned the wards, lifted patients, and helped soldiers write letters home. At least 21,000 female nurses served in the Union Army and others served as nurses in unofficial capacities. The number of female Confederate nurses is more elusive, but soldiers and doctors all noted their omnipresence. Even with volunteers in short supply, African American nurses were frequently relegated to menial tasks as ''wardboys.'' At Tunnel Hill Hospital in Atlanta, for example, ''negro women who aid in cleaning the wards are also required to wash'' (Mohr 2005, 278). Despite their varied roles, the work that women provided in military hospitals, at all levels, proved invaluable.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment