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Historians agree that World War II changed life for American women in the 20th century The Civil War had just as great an impact on the lives of American women in the 19th century httpwwwdefenselinkmil Staying at home women could help the war effort by running businesses making clothes and taking care of their farms but some women wanted to do more Some women went to become nurses and helped wounded soldiers some became spies and still others posed as men and enlisted in armies almost all women did their best to help during the civil war Over 3000 women served as nurses between 1861 and 1865 Since nursing schools were not established until 1873 they had no formal training Many had no work experience outside the home httpwwwnorthnetorg As nurses women worked in hospitals taking care of wounded soldiers The novelist Louisa May Alcott described the soldiers as riddled with shot and shell and torn and shattered Two famous nurses were Mary Edwards Walker who earned a Congressional Medal Honor for her medical service and Clara Barton Clara Barton was known as the Angel of the Battlefield she used her home as a warehouse to store medical supplies and with the help of her friends she distributed them to troops When the government began to send adequate supplies she began an organization to locate missing soldiers In 1869 she founded the American Red Cross after traveling abroad Dorthea Dix who originally worked towards improving the care of mentally ill people was recruited as the superintendent of the Union army nurses She made hospitals oversaw sewing societies helped get medical supplies and recruited and trained women to be nurses Her requirements in a nurse were strict - not too young not too pretty and of strict moral character She preferred farm women accustomed to the sight of blood Nurses wore only plain brown or black dresses with no hoop skirts jewelry or accessories and
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