Monday, December 1, 2014

Women Working Outside the House: Phoebe Pember


A Civil War hospital was no place for a high society woman, but Phoebe Pember took on the challenge with ease. When most Southern women spent the war sewing and mending clothes, Pember spent it as the head matron of the largest hospital in the South.  Pember chastised women who hit behind conventional modesty rather than volunteering for nursing assignments. As head matron she was in charge of making sure that the soldier of the wards were well taken care of by the other staff, often doing the work herself when it did not meet her standards. She was often seen at night at the bed side of a sick soldier or roaming the halls making sure all were resting comfortably. Going above and beyond her duties and not following the expectations of the surgeon that the nurses were to obey their orders and not make suggestions when it came to a patients well being, Pember was not a favorite of the male staff.

Women who worked in the hospitals were often frowned upon and  urged by their families to come back home. They along with society did not see the need for women to do such things and be around men that were not their husbands. For the nurses had to care for the sick and tent to their wounds often being exposed to male bodies for the first time. This did not waver Pember from her duties but made her stronger throughout the course of the war, helping to pave the war for women nurses in the future.


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