Monday, August 8, 2011

Katherine Prescott Wormeley

Katherine Wormeley, the daughter of a British rear-admiral, emigrated with her family to the United States when she was 18. Katherine had had a privileged upbringing among English and French society, had traveled in Europe and met some of the most famous literary icons of her time.

She volunteered as a nurse with the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War and was among the first women to serve on hospital ships. Her published letters brought attention to and provided a dark and detailed picture of the conditions among the sick and wounded. In a time when women were almost never seen in administrative positions, Miss Wormeley found herself responsible for directing groups of men.

After the war, Katherine Wormeley served as the superintendent of a hospital for convalescent soldiers in Rhode Island. She was always active in causes benefiting the education of women and founded the Girls’ Industrial School at Newport which she funded it for its first three years. She became well known in literary circles for her excellent translations of the works of famous French authors.

Volunteer nurse, author, philanthropist
Age in 1861: 31


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