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Sarah Low Papers, 1844-1965

Title: Sarah Low Papers, 1844-1965

Creator: Low, Sarah, 1830-1913

Accession / Call Number: 1965.010

Object ID: 1965.010

Date: 1844-1965

Physical Description: 1 box

Level of Description: Collection

Scope and Content: The Sarah Low Papers, 1858-1880, contain personal correspondence from Low to her relatives describing her activities as a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Her letters, some of which were published in New Hampshire and Massachusetts newspapers, focus on her daily routine as a nurse at Union Hotel Hospital and Armory Square Hospital in Washington, DC. Low wrote in detail about her nursing responsibilities as well as operations performed, cures for infection and disease, sanitary conditions of war hospitals, patients, battles, excursions, social events, and politics. In some of the correspondence, Low's family refers to her as "Sallie." Among Low's earliest letters are various accounts of Nurse Dorothea Dix, who was superintendent of army nurses during the Civil War and renowned crusader for the mentally ill. Nurse Dix, in charge of hiring trained nurses, believed volunteer nurses were unprofessional and resented their presence. In an effort to rid of Low, Dix reported her on at least one occasion for neglect of duty. Several detailed letters during the years 1862 to 1863 relate Sarah's encounters with Dix. Shortly after her arrival in Washington, Low was transferred to Armory Square Hospital, where she remained until 1866. She and other volunteer staff were welcomed and supported by Dr. Willard Bliss, surgeon-in-chief of Armory Square Hospital and superintendent of construction on the "model" hospital. Sarah's change in attitude is strongly reflected in all letters written home after her transfer. There are also several letters in the collection written during the winter of 1864 depicting Sarah's spare moments in nearby Freedman's Village. Low shared political views and social customs with freed men and their families while also teaching them to read and write. In April 1864, Low was invited to a reception given by President Abraham Lincoln, and a year later, she attended his wake and watched his funeral procession. She describes in detail both events in her letters.

Subjects: United States-- History-- Civil War, 1861-1865., United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Medical care, Nurses

Locations: Dover, NH
Washington, DC
Boston, MA

People: Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865), Dix, Dorothea Lynde

Location Code: TL/1W

Restrictions: Available for research.

Preferred Citation: Sarah Low Papers, 1965.010. New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, NH. Date accessed.

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