View Full Version : where to start with a nurse impression?

10-25-2007, 10:30 AM
dont worry... i already did a search :) surprisingly i didnt find anything on being female :)

i seriously dont know where to even start with this impression. my knowledge is all this century... though i do know quite a bit on herbs, but thats nowadays.

can someone please point me in the right direction. everything i have found on the internet does not tell me what exactly they had to know or do.

Sarah Jane Meister
10-25-2007, 10:58 AM
Ok, I had a post written and my one year old just deleted the entire thing. :)

Anyway, Gangrene and Glory is a good book to read to get an overall view of Confederate and Fedeal medical practices during the war years. I believe there are a few images of females in the book, I think some are of religiously-affiliated nurses and one is of a lady who tried to boost the moral of the wounded by singing, etc. (I would LOVE to copy her dress someday!)

Another good book is Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott.

I did some research on nursing prior to getting married. It is my understanding that female nurses would practice in general hospitals rather than field hospitals. Depending on who you would be nursing under the authority of, there were some stipulations on dress/appearance. Of course there are instances where female nurses did go into the field but that seems to be the exception rather than the norm. I wanted to portray the norm and thats why I never really got into nursing since the medical impressions around here portray field hospitals.


10-25-2007, 11:53 AM
Ditto on the recommendation of "Hospital Sketches." It's a quick and funny read, and gives a vivid picture of a typical nurse's life. As far as medical knowledge, most female nurses, of course, wouldn't have any specific training; they were volunteers from home. So the knowledge would be a combination of the average person's experience, plus what she'd picked up being around military doctors and seeing their work in the hospital.

For the latter, there are several threads in the medical subforum here on medical/surgical procedures and books from the period. As a modern person, it doesn't hurt to know more than a period nurse would have, but in the period, a basic knowledge of what injuries and illnesses were common, their symptoms, the effects of various treatments, recovery times, etc. would be the kinds of things you'd know, rather than the name of each surgical instrument, for example.

For everyday medicine, depends a lot on your particular background. Poor backwoods? Sure, you'd know all the local herbs, how to prepare them and how to treat your family, before you'd spend money on a doctor. Middle-class city? You might not know vervain if you stepped on it, but you'd know when to ask for Dover's Powders at the drugstore or what the doctor recommended when your children had the measles. There are medical books for the layman, like Child's The Family Nurse or Gunn's New Domestic Physician that were aimed for the middle class and give a good idea of typical conditions, names for them, and treatment. True folk medicine of the lower classes is a little trickier since it was mostly passed on orally and herbal medicine has changed over the years so you can't assume today's popular medicine was on most people's radar years ago, nor that common herbs of the 1860s are heard of today. Even Gunn, though, talks about what the "country people" do.

Sarah brings up one big problem, though. Typical female volunteer nurses did work in general hospitals, or in hospital buildings closer to battles when the battles were over. So it's hard to find a living history situation where you can experience what you would have and learn by doing. And for nurses of either sex, even assuming the weekend's patients are from Saturday's battle, it's hard to find living history patients to actually nurse, beyond the stage of transportation and first aid care.

Hank Trent

Jas. Cox
10-25-2007, 12:37 PM
It's been awhile since I read this, so I'm foggy on details, but the book Bleeding Blue and Grey by Rutkow, Ira M. also covers some on nursing. I believe it recounts some of the early criteria for choosing nurses.

When my mom was going through nurses' training in the 1950's, one had to be single to go through training. Just a random fact.

Good luck

10-25-2007, 01:15 PM
Forgot to mention, for the ideal of nursing practice of the day, Nightingale's Notes on Nursing is a pretty good basic work. Not that it necessarily went like that in real life, though...

Hank Trent

10-25-2007, 01:58 PM
thanks all! those help... now to get ahold of the books. called the library and they are a no go (small town library and they dont do inner library loans!).

10-25-2007, 02:45 PM
You can likely find Hospital Sketches on Google Books.

Call your state's "land grant" university--most will allow state residents to check out books from their collection, as part of the college charter.

10-25-2007, 05:15 PM
The Family Nurse http://books.google.com/books?id=AU0EAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA5

Gunn's Domestic Medicine http://books.google.com/books?id=U90_-5e4d1wC&pg=PA5

Notes on Nursing http://books.google.com/books?id=JpuoNZuLizAC&pg=PA5
or http://books.google.com/books?id=fAAIAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA7
Edited to add that other edition. Not sure how they differ, but the reprint I have is subtitled "What it is and what it is not" same as the second link above.

Hospital Sketches http://books.google.com/books?id=i4I0AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA3

Limited view of Gangrene and Glory (haven't look at it, so don't know how much is there) http://books.google.com/books?id=MZN-k8PFdWMC&pg=PP1

Hank Trent

10-25-2007, 05:23 PM
Don't forget books on Dorthea Dix and the nursing corp and also US Sanitary Commission and Christian Commission as some nursing services were provided especially in the aftermath of Gettysburg.

Cannot forget Cornelia Hancock either..go to this site to see her autobiography.


10-25-2007, 07:39 PM
Ok my Southern leanings will show here. Try these:

Kate: The Journal of A Confederate Nurse by Kate Cumming, Edited by Richard Barksdale Harwell
Scottish-born, Alabama-bred Kate Cumming was one of the first women to offer her services for the care of the South’s wounded soldiers. Her detailed journal, first published in 1866, provides a riveting look behind the lines of Civil War action in depicting civilian attitudes, army medical practices, and the administrative workings of the Confederate hospital system.

A Confederate Nurse : The Diary of Ada W. Bacot, 1860-1863
Although the Civil War was the first major American conflict in which women nurses played a significant role, the dearth of information about these women makes the diary of a Southern medical worker an especially important document. A Confederate Nurse records the daily experiences, hardships, and joys of Ada W. Bacot, a plantation owner and childless widow whose Southern patriotism prompted her to leave her native South Carolina to care for wounded Confederates in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bacot’s journal sheds light on her own experiences and also on the themes that dominated the lives of Southern white women throughout the nineteenth century. A Confederate Nurse reveals the Confederate nationalism that motivated some Southern women and the work these women performed to sustain the war effort.

Exile to Sweet Dixie: The Story of Euphemia Goldsborough, Confederate Nurse and Smuggler
From Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughly researched but ultimately unreadable diary of a Civil Warera nurse and smuggler, edited by Conklin, a Gettysburg battlefield guide and lecturer on women in the Civil War. Euphemia Goldsborough (``Pheme,'' as the editor calls her), born to a prosperous Maryland family, was 24 at the onset of the Civil War. In a diary and in a journal called a hospital book, she recorded her experiences as a nurse in a hospital and in a Union camp for captured Confederate soldiers (she smuggled letters and parcels to the prisoners). While Goldsborough is a fairly lively writer and offers new information on such topics as the role of women nurses at Gettysburg and Confederate women in Baltimore, as well as the treatment of female prisoners, there is far more irrelevant detail here than even the most ardent Civil War buff would ever care to read. The ``hospital book'' offers little more than a catalog of injuries and deaths of Confederate soldiers. An important historical document, but not for general readers. (photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

I believe all three are in print and available online.

Hope this helps!

10-25-2007, 08:00 PM
Forgot one:

A Southern Woman's Story by Phoebe Yates Pember
Phoebe Yates Pember's A Southern Woman's Story is the inaugural volume in the University of South Carolina Press's new paperback series, American Civil War Classics. First published in 1879, the book chronicles Phoebe Pember's experiences as matron of the Confederate Chimborazo Hospital from November 1862 until the fall of Richmond in April 1865. Long an important source in Confederate history, A Southern Woman's Story is also a valuable book for students and scholars of women's history and the social history of the Civil War.
In many ways Phoebe Yates Pember (1823–1913) was a representative upper-class gentlewoman. Daughter of a Jewish merchant of Charleston who moved his family to Savannah in the 1850s, she sought ways to help the Southern cause—but she broke all stereotypes by the character and length of her service.
Widowed and childless in 1861, Pember took the post of matron at the Confederate Army's Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. She labored there throughout the war and in 1879 recorded her experiences in A Southern Woman's Story. No dilettante's romance or saccharine Lost Cause tale, it is a remarkably frank treatment of Confederate social and medical history. Pember reports on the gossip and scandals from inside the Confederacy's largest hospital and the embattled city of Richmond, presenting bureaucratic personalities and stock characters with insight and occasional flashes of humor.

10-25-2007, 08:22 PM
quite the info! now i need to find time to read!

i called the library and they didnt have any way to get any of the books (they are not a good library... they dont have any books on the civil war that arent romance novels!). but i happened to call the right lady as she knew someone that could help me, so she gave me his phone #. he has some on hand, and others he doesnt, so currently he will be sending me "Gunn and Jordans revised physicians" he said not in great shape, but to get in good shape would cost me some $$$. i believe he said the date on it is 1871... but not certain on that date. "Gangrene and Glory", "Civil War Nurse: Diary of Hannah Ropes" and "Civil War Hospital Sketches". ill call him tomorrow with the rest of the titles to see if he cant find those for me.

10-26-2007, 09:02 AM
Notes on Nursing http://books.google.com/books?id=JpuoNZuLizAC&pg=PA5
or http://books.google.com/books?id=fAAIAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA7
Edited to add that other edition. Not sure how they differ, but the reprint I have is subtitled "What it is and what it is not" same as the second link above.

The first link has only half the book scanned. The rest of the scans are blank pages.

I will look at the other link this evening.

Robert A Mosher
10-26-2007, 09:17 AM
Dulcie, Noah -

I'm a big fan of Google books, having identified by now several hundred volumes that address various interests (not counting the virtual library my friends at the Napoleon Series have created and which I can tap when I need to).

GOOGLE books includes a place to report pdf files that have bad or missing images and they do respond to such reports. If you are on the page that allows you to view the book's contents, you will see to your right a short statement of the book's contents beneath which are links to "More about this book," "Reviews," etc. Click on "More about this book" and you get a new webpage that shows the book's cover, the publishing information, etc, above a section offering contents and a chance to search within the book - at the bottom of this webpage you are offered several additional links including one called "Feedback" - Click on "Feedback" and you get a new webpage form that enables you to describe the problem, identify missing pages, etc. After filling it out, click on "Submit" at the bottom of the page and the information goes to Google Books. The times that I have used this feature, I got an acknowledgement of my report that same day - correcting the problem may take time depending upon who originally scanned the book and the nature of the problem, but my friends at the Napoleon Series report that problems do get corrected.

You may also be interested in the more recent feature of "My Library" which allows users with a Google email address to create an account and an online "library" where they can save books that they find via Google Books in order to find them more quickly, read them online at their leisure, or download or print them out sometime in the future.

Robert A. Mosher

10-26-2007, 10:12 AM
Thanks for the tips; I think I will load up "my library". Origianlly I saved the links online and downloaded that which I can. That way I have the book to read even offline, and I have the online link if I need to do rapid searches for specific subjects.

Edited to add: Just checked the other link. It's the full text. I added it to "my library" just to see how the system works. The first of many.

Bookworms of the world; Unite!!

Frustrating that the iGoogle homepage does not have a gadget which allows direct access to one's "My Library".

10-26-2007, 12:04 PM
yes thank you for the tips! its time for me to buy a laptop! i do enough sports practices and waiting in the car, that i like to take either small projects or books with me. kind of hard to take my desktop computer though! now if i could find all these on cd... id be in heaven... put them on my mp3 player and listen to them whenever and whereever.

10-26-2007, 02:18 PM
Oh, to have James Earl Jones reading The Art and Science of Surgery a la audiobooks. That'll keep me occupied for many moons on my commuter bus. LOL

10-26-2007, 02:44 PM
might make it a bit more interesting! i like the guys voice who does all the harry potter books, havent yet listened to them, but my daughter goes to sleep to them.

10-26-2007, 02:47 PM
The surgery manual is over a thousand pages.

Then again, the later HP books crept close to that number, so I shouldn't criticize.

Laptops are terrific. Everywhere you go you hear Mel Gibson screaming in the background "FRRREEEEDDDOOOMMM!!!"

Until it's time to recharge the internal battery.

10-26-2007, 04:07 PM

The above is a pretty good list of Nursing in the CW - contains some info already given.

10-26-2007, 05:32 PM
the hp cds the 4th one has something like 24 cds.

im looking for a good price on a laptop. so far they are out of my reach.

10-27-2007, 09:08 AM
Why not shop for bargains from Brother Jonathan?


The Treasury and the GSA sell forfeited property and surplus government items to raise some extra cash. You can get good stuff at insane low prices.

Back to nursing impressions . . .