A Story of the Female Healers of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Cover Image: Benjamin West, Maternity. 1784, red chalk on thin off-white laid paper, mounted on off-white laid paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Forming a new country in a New World was a multifaceted challenge of politics, religion, and biological stability. The health of a nation depends on the health of its people. History has shown us that disease can play a larger role in conquests than soldiers yielding weapons, which implies the importance of controlling disease. From the chaotic witch hunts to midwives and nurses keeping the American colonies alive to fight for freedom, women have faced a thick barrier to success in medical occupations over time. While telling the story of medicine’s role in the forming of our country, this website will highlight the difference that women made in America’s success in the Revolutionary War.
This topic fits into the overall narrative of women of the Revolutionary War by encompassing the occupational impact and challenges of women who were healers in a vital political time for the new country. By changing diplomatic history and opening the path for women of the future to contribute to healing the human body, women of medicine made their mark.
Click the tabs above to explore how religion, occupation, and education created and affected the female healers of the Revolutionary War. Additionally, biographies of historical women who exemplified the lauded ‘woman of medicine’ are featured in the Biographies tab. To learn more about Revolutionary-era medicines and antidotes, visit the Apothecary tab. Additional readings on the subject and an archive of sources used for research may be found in the tabs titled accordingly.