First African American Woman Doctor

Rebecca Lee was born in Delaware in 1833. An aunt in Pennsylvania, who spent much of her time caring for sick neighbors, raised her. Due to her aunt's influence, Rebecca developed a strong compassion for the sick at a very young age, and learned to care for ill patients. The first formal school for nursing did not open until 1873, so she performed her work without any formal training.

By 1852, she moved …Read More...

Civil War Spy and Theater Actress

Pauline Cushman, a Union spy, was born Harriet Wood on June 10, 1833, in New Orleans and spent some of her early childhood there. Her father then moved the family to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pauline did not like it there, and at seventeen she ran away to New York to become an actress. She landed some small parts and caught the attention of a theatre owner from New Orleans, who hired her …Read More...

American Author and Civil War Nurse

Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832, the second daughter of Abigail May, women's suffrage and abolitionist advocate, and Bronson Alcott, philosopher and education reformer. Louisa and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth, and May were educated by their father, and spent their childhood in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts.

When Louisa was 10, Bronson enlisted the family in an experiment in communal living on a tract he named Fruitlands, because …Read More...

Women and Children Killed in Explosion

The Confederate States Laboratories (CSL) was located on Brown's Island in the James River in Virginia. The brainchild of Confederate ordnance chief Colonel Josiah Gorgas, the CSL made small arms and ammunition for the Confederate Army.

Image: Monument to the Women and Girls in the Browns Island Explosion

This gray granite marker now stands beside the gazebo in Richmond's Oakwood Cemetery. The names of those who perished and their ages are engraved on the …Read More...

African American Abolitionist and Author

Harriet Jacobs escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs' single work, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, was one of the first autobiographical narratives about the struggle for freedom by female slaves and an account of the sexual harassment and abuse they endured.

Harriet Ann Jacobs was born in 1813 in Edenton, North Carolina to Daniel Jacobs and Delilah. Daniel was …Read More...

Home Used as Union Headquarters at the Battle of Gettysburg

On July 1, 1863, Federal troops surrounded the Leister farm - it was in the crook of the fishhook battle line along Cemetery Ridge. When General George Gordon Meade chose the Leister house (image left) as the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, Lydia and her children sought shelter with relatives who lived on the Baltimore Pike.

Lydia Leister was a widow who owned a modest farm along the …Read More...