Esther Hill Hawks


Doctor and Teacher for the Freedmen's Bureau

Unable to serve as an Army Surgeon because of her gender, Dr. Esther Hill Hawks educated newly freed slaves on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. After the war, she established Florida's first interracial school, but in January 1869 her new schoolhouse was torched; she returned to New England to practice medicine.

Esther continued [Read More ...]

Civil War Women Doctors


Civil War Women in Medicine

Image: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker in the male attire she so loved to wear

It is unclear how many women were working as physicians in the United States before the Civil War. At that time, medical students commonly studied under an established physician and did not attend a formal medical school. Many women learned their [Read More ...]

Emily Blackwell


Doctor and Educator in the Civil War Era

Emily Blackwell (1826–1910), physician and educator, was the second woman to earn a medical degree at what is now Case Western Reserve University, and the third woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. Dr. Blackwell, with her sister Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and their colleague Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, established the [Read More ...]

Rebecca Cole


Women in Medicine: Second African American Female Doctor

In 1867, Rebecca Cole became the second African American woman to receive an M.D. degree in the United States. Despite incredible sexism and racism, Cole persevered as a doctor, becoming a tireless advocate for medical rights for the poor, particularly for black Americans who were mostly ignored by the white medical establishment.

[Read More ...]

Mary Jane Safford


Civil War Nurse and Female Physician

Mary Jane Safford is best known for nursing wounded Union soldiers on battlefields and hospital ships on the Mississippi River during the Civil War, an experience that influenced her to pursue a career in medicine. After the war, she earned her medical degree, established a practice, and taught at the Boston University Medical School.

[Read More ...]