“Matronly persons . . . will always have preference”


In 1861, shortly after the Battle of Bull Run, U.S. Surgeon General William Hammond appointed Dorothea Dix as Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurses. This circular lays out Dix’s requirements for women who wanted to serve. Strict age and marriage requirements stemmed from fears that mixing young unmarried women with soldiers would lead to scandal. Dix appointed approximately 3,000 women to nursing positions. Approximately 30,000 women served in nursing and relief operations on both sides of the conflict. Text adapted from "Surgeon General's Office" in the January 1988 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education that featured the same document from the Records of the Surgeon General's Office.

National Archives, Records of the Judge Advocate General (Army)