To Bind Up the Wounds: Catholic Sister Nurses in the U.S. Civil War

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This book is the first to focus on the work of nearly 600 sisters from 12 different Catholic orders who nursed wounded and sick Union and Confederate soldiers between 1860 and 1865. Drawing on archival sources and the personal papers of the women who participated, Maher gives a detailed account of their experiences: how they were called into service, where they served, what duties they performed, how they looked on their mission, and how they were viewed by those who worked with them. Through service on the battlefield, in hospitals, and on transport boats, the sisters became known for their dedication and practical skills.

Maher begins with a dicussion of Catholic sisters in mid-nineteenth century America and the development of Catholic nursing during that period. While other women were prohibited by custom from nursing outside the home, Catholic sisters had established the practice of caring for the sick in the community and providing nursing care during epidemics and other public crises. During the Civil War, their assistance was sought by Union and Confederate governmental, military, and medical authorities. Through service on the battlefield, in hospitals, and on transport boats, the sisters became known for their dedication and practical skills. Maher examines the impact of their work in both modifying negative pre-Civil War attitudes towards Catholics and sisters and in paving the way for the development of a nursing profession outside the Catholic orders. Basing her study on letters, journals, and memoirs containing the sisters' personal accounts of their experiences, Civil War histories, and official medical and surgical records, Maher offers a richly detailed picture of a little-known aspect of U.S. history. Of particular interest for schools of nursing, Catholic educational institutions, and history courses concerning women's studies, the Civil War period, religion, and Catholicism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313264580
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/6/1989
  • Series: Contributions in Women's Studies Series, #10
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

SISTER MARY DENIS MAHER is Associate Professor of English at Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio, and a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

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Table of Contents


Photo Essay

Catholic Sisters in Mid-Nineteenth Century America

Backgrounds of Catholic Nursing in the United States in the Nineteenth Century

Medical Care and Lay Female Nursing During the Civil War

Catholic Sisters Respond to Requests for Nursing in the Civil War

Catholic Sister Nurses in the Civil War

Contemporaneous Attitudes about the Catholic Sisters in the Civil War

Selected Bibliography


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