Category: People A-F

Emily Elizabeth Parsons (1824 – 1880)

February 20, 2017

Civil War Nurse and later Founder of Mount Auburn Hospital, Emily Elizabeth Parsons was born March 8, 1824 in Taunton, Massachusetts.  Emily’s father, author and lawyer Theophilus Parsons II was Dane Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; and her grandfather, Theophilus Parsons, Sr. was Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Although she was born to a family of much wealth and renown, at age 37 Parsons insisted upon leaving home to volunteer as a nurse in the American Civil War.

Despite her father’s objections, she gained admittance to the Massachusetts General Hospital as a student nurse, having been recommended by Dr. Jeffries Wyman (#133 Willow Avenue) of Cambridge. During her training she learned not only nursing skills, but also observed the management of a well-run hospital. “This preparation, coupled with her own executive gifts, gave her a professional competence almost unique among Civil War nurses.” (Notable American Women).

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