The Lauramann Howe Russell Papers: a Window into Critical Care Medicine during the American Civil War

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Abstract

The Civil War influenced all aspects of American society and culture, including the field of medicine and critical care. Union physician Lauramann Howe Russell's letter to his daughter, Ellen Howe, written on October 19, 1862, illustrates the changes in hospital construction, gender roles in healthcare and medical treatments which revolutionized healthcare during the Civil War. This letter offers a glimpse of the medical care of wounded soldiers during the early years of the Civil War. In describing his conversion hospital, he reveals the precursor to the new hospital construction which would greatly influence hospital design for decades to come. His description of women volunteers hints at the evolving role and growing importance of women in healthcare. Finally, the advancements in surgical and medical practice which developed during the Civil War are embodied in Russell's descriptions of his patients. His letter freezes a moment in medical history, bridging the gap between archaic medical practice and modern critical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-121
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Anesthesia History
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Civil war
  • Conversion hospital
  • Critical care
  • Healthcare
  • Women

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