Sometimes instead of changing an entire exhibit, a few new items can be added. This allows some of the artifacts to be rotated off display for a while. It also gives our exhibits an “update” and allows our visitors to see new artifacts. I’ve recently updated two of the exhibits at the NMCWM. Let’s take a look at what’s on display now.
Most of the new additions were added to the Nursing display. Though my museum doesn’t have a large collection of artifacts associated with Civil War nurses, we are fortunate to be able to display the following items from the collection of Chris Foard.
Nurses did get breaks from their duties sometimes. This is a three-day pass for three nurses, Miss Keen, Miss Kimbal, and Miss Morrison, from the Seminary Hospital on August 11, 1864.
Here is a stereograph card which pictures Dorothea L. Dix, who served as the Superintendent of Nurses during the Civil War. The back of card is dated August 1865. The twin images on stereograph cards allowed people to view images that appeared three-dimensional when the cards were seen through a hand-held viewer.
There were male nurses who served in the Civil War too. The image on this Carte-de-Visite is identified on the back as male nurse, William E. Preston, Company I, 112th Illinois Infantry.
You might recognize the woman in this image! Though Louisa May Alcott is most famous as an author, she was also a Civil War nurse.
This tintype shows an unidentified volunteer nurse who worked at the Armory Square Hospital in Washington D.C. The image is dated May 1864.
Nurse Debby Hughes is pictured in this Carte-de-Visite. On the back of the case is a partial newspaper clipping which reads, “Death of an Army Nurse, Westchester, Pa, Monday Nov. 18. Miss Debby Hughes, the Washington nurse, so badly injured by the recent railroad accident, died at noon to-day of tetanus.”
This is an unidentified nurse from Portsmouth Grove Hospital. The back of the image is simply labeled, “Nice Lady.” I imagine this was written by one of her grateful patients.
This is my personal favorite of the new artifacts on display – a pencil drawing by Private William T. Peters, Company H, 36th New York Volunteers. It depicts the interior of a hospital tent, and nurses at the U.S. Army Hospital at Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island. You can see that the artist (who was a patient there) included his unit’s designation on the haversack!
One additional item was added to the new Recruiting display as well. You can see the white cap cover on the left side of the display. This is called a havelock, and it covered the soldiers’ caps and necks to keep them cool and prevent sunstroke in hot weather. The problem was that they didn’t work! The men found that the havelocks actually made them feel hotter. The havelocks were either discarded or put to other uses – as dish rags, coffee strainers, or even bandages.
So, that’s what’s new at the museum. If you’re in area, come take a look!
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
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