Hidden Figures: Mary Edwards Walker

As I was researching something else entirely--black women who served as soldiers and spies in the Civil War--I stumbled upon the story of Mary Edwards Walker, a woman born a century before her time. She was an Abolitionist before the Civil War and a suffragist after. She earned a medical degree before the war broke out, and when hostilities began, offered her services to the U. S. Army as a surgeon. After the Civil War, she was the only woman awarded the Medal of Honor.

Her interest in reform included the reform of women's dress, and she walked the talk as few 19th-century women did. The National Library of Medicine holds this image of Dr. Walker in bloomer dress, and a few years later, dapper in a man's suit.