During the Civil War, Louisa May Alcott served as a volunteer nurse, caring for Union soldiers in Washington, D.C., between December 12, 1862, and January 21, 1863. This well-researched biographical vignette explores the brief but pivotal episode in Alcott’s life.
An abolitionist, Alcott longed to fight in the Union Army, but she did her part by serving as a nurse. Alcott met the female nursing requirements: She was 30, plain, strong and unmarried. Krull describes her challenging solo journey from Massachusetts by train and ship and her lonely arrival in Washington at the “overcrowded, damp, dark, airless” hospital. For three weeks she nursed and provided “motherly” support for her “boys” before succumbing to typhoid fever, forcing her to return to Massachusetts. Krull shows how Alcott’s short tenure as a nurse affected her life, inspiring her to publish letters she sent home as Hospital Sketches. This honest account of the war earned rave reviews and taught Alcott to use her own experiences in her writing, leading to Little Women. Peppered with Alcott’s own words, the straightforward text is enhanced by bold, realistic illustrations rendered in digital oils on gessoed canvas. A somber palette reinforces the grim wartime atmosphere, dramatically highlighting Alcott in her red cape and white nurse’s apron.
An insightful glimpse into a key period in Alcott’s life and women in nursing. (notes on women in medicine and the Battle of Fredericksburg, sources, map) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)