The First Shipboard Women

By the Civil War, the U.S. Navy realized that it would need help from women. And since nursing was an accepted profession for women, the Navy decided that women could serve aboard ships as an experiment.

But not just any women. Nuns. Specifically the Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross, who served in aboard the pioneer Naval hospital ship the USS Red Rover.  The ship was based in the Mississippi River.

This engraving from Harper’s Bazaar shows at left a sister nurse attending a patient bedside. It comes from the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

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