A Wartime Role for Women
With no specialized medical training or
preparation, Amanda Akin arrived at Armory
Square Hospital on an April evening in 1863
to begin work. Nursing was not yet established
as a profession, and most men and women who
took on these roles were expected to learn as
they went about their daily activities.
Female nurses were newcomers to military hospitals. Convalescent soldiers continued to fill most of the nursing positions, especially in field hospitals and in camp, where conditions were considered unsuitable for women. At Armory Square Hospital the female nurses shared their duties with male “attendants.”
During the war, the title of “nurse” was often reserved for white middle- and upper-class women. However, along with these “lady nurses,” as they were known, others from diverse backgrounds working as matrons, cooks, laundresses, or without title performed many of the same tasks.
—Amanda Akin, 1863