Lecture set April 30 on blacks in Civil War medicine

Staff report


The Mahoning Valley Historical Society, in partnership with Youngstown State University’s Melnick Medical Museum, will welcome Betsy Estilow at 7 p.m. next Wednesday for a free presentation at the Tyler History Center, 325 W. Federal St.

The presentation, titled “Overlooked and Undervalued: The Role of African-Americans in Civil War Medicine,” will highlight the African-American women and men who joined the war effort working at hospitals, on battlefields and with relief efforts in both the North and the South.

Serving as surgeons, nurses, hospital attendants, cooks and laundresses with Union forces, they challenged the prescribed notions of race and gender. In the South, hundreds of black men and women, both free and enslaved, played crucial roles in medical service.

Estilow is a professor emeritus of biology at Hood College in Frederick, Md., where she also served as a lecturer in Civil War history and as health-professions adviser. She received her bachelor’s degree from Albright College and her master’s degree in medical technology specializing in medical microbiology from West Virginia University.

Though she has been studying Civil War history since childhood, she began actively researching the role of women in the war 30 years ago.

She serves as president of the board of directors for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, where she helped in the research and design of the exhibits. She serves as a docent for the museum and developed walking tours of medical sites in downtown Frederick.

Estilow also is a co-founder of the Society for Women and the Civil War, a national organization dedicated to recognizing the role of women from 1861 to 1865. She has published in The Journal of Woman’s Civil War History and is the author of “Doing My Duty: The Wartime Experiences of John S. Hard.”

For information, contact the historical society at 330-743-2589. Free adjacent parking is available at the history center.

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