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Autograph of Dr. Mary Walker, Female Civil War Surgeon and Medal of Honor Recipient
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CIVIL WAR. SUFFRAGE. MARY EDWARDS WALKER. Autograph, n.d. 3½ x 1⅞ in. Card signed, “Mary E. Walker, M.D.

Inventory #24896       Price: $850

Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919) was born in New York into a progressive family who questioned social conventions. She attended Falley Seminary in Fulton, New York, and she developed an early interest in medicine. She earned enough money through teaching to pay her way through Syracuse Medical College, from which she graduated in 1855 as the only woman in her class. She married a fellow medical student in 1855, and they established a joint practice in Rome, New York. They later divorced. Walker zealously supported the abolition and prohibition movements as well. She briefly attended Bowen Collegiate Institute in Iowa in 1860. She became famous for wearing “male’ clothing and challenging the conventions of female dress. At the beginning of the Civil War, she volunteered as a surgeon but was rejected by the army because she was a woman. She then volunteered as a civilian surgeon and by 1863 was employed as a civilian surgeon by the army. In April 1864, she was captured by the Confederates and imprisoned in Richmond until August, when she was released in a prisoner exchange. She later served as supervisor of a female prison in Kentucky and of an orphanage in Tennessee. In 1865, she began receiving a disability pension for partial muscular atrophy from her time as a prisoner of war. Generals William T. Sherman and George H. Thomas recommended Walker for a Medal of Honor, and she received the medal in November 1865. Although the Army struck the names of Walker and 910 other Medal of Honor recipients upon review in 1917, President Jimmy Carter restored the medal posthumously in 1977.


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