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Director’s Council of Public Representatives (COPR)

NIH Public Bulletin – June 2011

Civil War Nurse Exhibition

When: June 1–July 31, 2011
Where: Albert H. Small Documents Gallery, National Museum of American History, Washington, DC
Institute: National Library of Medicine (NLM)

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will host a special display, "So Much Need of Service: The Diary of a Civil War Nurse." On loan from NLM, the display tells the story of Nurse Amanda Akin, highlighting her personal diary and the published account of her experience in The Lady Nurse of Ward E.

In April 1863, two years after the outbreak of the Civil War, Akin traveled from her New York home to serve as a nurse at the Armory Square Hospital in the District of Columbia. The hospital was adjacent to the Smithsonian's grounds, where the National Air and Space Museum stands today. During her 15 months at Armory Square, Akin was eager to document her new experience as a nurse. By writing letters to her family and journaling personal moments in the hospital, Akin provided a glimpse into the daily life of the several million men and women who left their communities behind to contribute to the Civil War effort.

Next Steps

If you would like to know more, please visit The site features a mobile map application that pinpoints Civil War sites in the District of Columbia.

This page last reviewed on August 24, 2012

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