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Expanding the Role of Women as Nurses During the American Civil War

Lesniak, Rhonda Goodman PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC

Section Editor(s): Chinn, Peggy L. PhD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/01.ANS.0000346285.14483.74

Using the method of social history, this article looks at the many roles filled by women during the American Civil War. Through primary documents such as letters and diaries, the article captures a moment in time when society began to accept an expansion of women's allowed behaviors because of the war. One such field of endeavor was nursing, in which, contrary to Victorian notions, women proved their ability to withstand gruesome conditions in an effort to care for injured and ill soldiers. The purpose of this article is to reconstruct a brief period in which society began to accept role expansion for American women because of the demands of the American Civil War.

The Little Clinic, Deerfield Beach, Florida and Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.

Corresponding Author: Rhonda Goodman Lesniak, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC, 2837 Banyan Blvd Circle NW, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (

The author thanks Dr Ellen D. Baer for assistance and contributions in the preparation of the manuscript.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.