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Dr. Mary Walker The 1st Woman Medal of Honor Recipient

Updated on January 13, 2012

Dr. Mary Walker- 1st Woman Medal of Honor Winner

Mary Walker, M.D., (1832-1919) Physician and surgeon, was the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor for her heroic front line work in The Civil War.

Much ahead of her time, Dr. Walker, in 1855, was also one of the first women in the United States to earn a medical degree.


When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Dr. Walker volunteered to work on the Civil War battlefields caring for the wounded. Denied a commission as a medical officer because she was a woman, she volunteered anyway and eventually was appointed assistant surgeon of the 52nd Ohio Infantry.


Captured by the Confederates in 1864, she was exchanged only after she spent four months in a Richmond, Virginia prison.

The Early Days of Feminism

Dr. Walker lived a controversial life. She lectured throughout the United States and in Europe on women's rights, dress reform, health issues, and sexual and political equality. She tried to vote, but was turned away.

She rejected tight corsets and hooped dresses for the more practical pantsuits (pants, jackets, even a top hat) as a result she once found herself arrested in New York City for impersonating a man.

Humanitarian and Activist

She spoke against Imperialism, the Spanish-American War, and America's acquisition of colonies abroad. She worked for equal rights in all facets of life, from love and marriage to the workplace.

She was truly a Hero!

Women of Valor

Seeka Woman of Valor Judaic Pin with Hebrew - P0166
Seeka Woman of Valor Judaic Pin with Hebrew - P0166

The intricate design is hand painted within the stainless steel frame. A variety of materials are delicately assembled and layered with artist resin resulting in a beautifully finished piece.


You are not our protectors. If you were, who would there be to protect us from? -M. Walker - to men

Your Thoughts on Mary Walker!

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    • therealstig86 profile image

      therealstig86 6 years ago

      This is really interesting stuff. My friends and I play console games as you might expect, one of which goes by the title Medal Of Honor. When you read things like this it really brings it home to you that life is alot more than a game.

    • profile image

      Sparkyholden 8 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens. I have added it to my blogroll at It is about the first African American, the date of whose actions, were the first to qualify for the Medal of Honor.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 8 years ago

      Well, I had no idea. Thanks for the information! and I love the quote! ***** to you

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 9 years ago

      That is cool she recieved the medal of honor! She sounds like a pioneer for womankind. Hurray!