January 10, Pam Toler spoke on "Heroines of Mercy Street: Nurses of the Civil War." In this talk, Pamela Toler tells the story of how thousands of women with little or no experience with nursing volunteered to serve their country during the Civil War, taught themselves how to do the job under adverse circumstances (including hostility from the surgeons with whom they worked), and created a profession that did not exist before the war. Her research was the basis for the tv series of the same name. Pamela Toler grew up in Springfield, Missouri, where she participated in living history programs at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, learned to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle, and read and reread the biographies of women like Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Today armed with a Ph.D. in history, a well-thumbed deck of library cards, and a huge bump of curiosity, author, speaker, and historian, Pamela D. Toler translates history for a popular audience, going beyond the familiar boundaries of American history to tell stories from other parts of the world as well as history from the other side of the battlefield, the gender line, or the color bar. She is the author of eight books of popular history for children and adults. In "Heroines of Mercy Street," Toler has returned to her first historical love: Civil War in general and its impact on women in particular. more information: www.ChicagoCWRT.org
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