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The Diary of a Civil War Nurse

Portrait of a Nurse

The large and prosperous Akin family had lived in the Quaker Hill community north of New York City for generations. The eighth of Judge Albro Akin’s ten children, Amanda was thirty-five when she left to join the Union cause in April 1863. She returned home after serving at Armory Square Hospital, and few details of the rest of her life are known.
Akin married Dr. Charles W. Stearns in 1879, was widowed in 1887, and apparently had no children. In 1909, at age eighty-one, she published an account of her nursing experience, The Lady Nurse of Ward E, under her married name of Amanda Akin Stearns. She died in February 1911 and is buried with her husband in Pawling, New York.

“My Dear Sisters: You are no doubt anxiously looking for a ‘sign of life’ from me, but I can tell you initiation into hospital life of such a novice is not lightly to be spoken of, and until my ideas ceased floundering and I could recognize my old self again, I could not trust myself with a pen”
—Amanda Akin, 1863
Amanda Akin, April 1863

Amanda Akin, April 1863
This photograph was taken at the time Akin set off to Washington, D.C., to become a nurse. She included it in her published book. (Courtesy of National Library of Medicine)

Armory Square Nurses

Armory Square Nurses
Amanda Akin and three of the nurses she worked with at Armory Square Hospital: (clockwise from top) Helen Griggs, S. Ellen Marsh, Nancy Maria Hill, and Akin. She included this image in her book The Lady Nurse of Ward E. (Courtesy of National Library of Medicine (Courtesy of National Library of Medicine)

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