Notes: A compelling image of Dr. Walker, wearing her usual frock coat, a necktie, and her Congressional Medal of Honor. The image likely dates from the late 19th or early 20th century.
Walker (1832–1919) obtained a medical degree in 1855 and practiced medicine into her old age. During the Civil War she applied to be an army doctor but her request for a commission was refused because she was a woman. With much persistence, she obtained a contract position as a surgeon. In April 1864 she was captured by Confederate soldiers as a prisoner of war; she was released a few months later as part of a prisoner exchange.
After the war, she renewed her efforts to obtain a military commission. Congress reached a compromise, awarding her the Medal of Honor and granting her a military pension. Walker refused to wear traditional women's clothes and advocated for dress reform. She was active in the Suffrage Movement and lectured widely on women's civil rights.
This albumen print measures 4 by 5-1/2 inches on a plain cardstock mount.
Edition + Condition: The image has deep brown tones and excellent definition and focus. The image has been professionally airbrushed to hide the background to make it more suitable for publication. A note in pencil at the top, now crossed out, instructs someone to remove the background and a table from the print. The verso (back) of the mount is labeled "Eccentric Americans Dr. Mary Walker."
There are a variety of image service stamps and labels on the back, partially obliterating the photographer's name, which may be Winfield Scott Cline, better known now as a painter but he also took photographs in Washington, DC. The surface of the mount is chipped away on the back right corner; the damage is not visible from the front.
Publication: Washington DC: (ca. 1900?).
Item No: #308021