DescriptionMary Edwards Walker Autograph Manuscript Signed in the Text, With a Second Signature in the Docket. Three pages, penned on recto only, 8" x 12.5", n.p. [Washington DC], n.d. [circa 1870s]. A draft of a petition to the government, entirely in Walker's hand, in full:
"Dr. Mary E. Walker begs to explain, that, during the late War she founded an Institution for the relief of reputable women that were in pecuniary distress. She hired a house for which she paid $40 per month and devoted it exclusively for the purposes stated. Gen'l Canby gave cotts [sic], blankets, etc., for the Institution.
I called a meeting of women after the above was established, and formed an association [Women's Relief Association], and we carried on the business connected with the same for a number of years. Government after a time permitted the Association to occupy a confiscated house which was situated a little North East of the late Chief Justice Chase's residence, but when the property was restored to its owners (during my absence from the city) other houses were hired for a time until the Institution ceased to exist from lack of funds.
The same had been Chartered by Congress, but owing to the deaths of some of the members and removal of others, and the labor of collecting funds to hire a building the work ceased.
I now most respectfully ask that a piece of ground with a building on the same be purchased by Government for the purpose of re-establishing this temporary Home for Respectable Women, who are without means from any cause and need the relief of a respectable lodging house and perhaps food for a few days until some permanent relief can be afforded."
Docketed on verso: "Explanation of Petition of Dr. Mary E. Walker. She asks the Nom. Com. to reconsider the Petition with explanation & allow Sub. Com. to hear evidence of the facts herein stated."
Noted Civil War surgeon, abolitionist, and feminist Dr. Mary E. Walker is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor, the military's highest decoration for bravery, for her actions during the Civil War. Following the war, Dr. Walker was deeply involved in women's rights, and worked to achieve not only equality, but safety and security for all women. To that end, she established the Women's Relief Association to provide temporary housing for the thousands of women who flooded the city searching for missing or wounded husbands, brothers, and sons. The need for such an organization continued well after the war ended, and finding it nearly impossible to fund the work on her own, she petitioned the government to provide land and a building to house her Home for Respectable Women. Offered here is a draft of an addendum to a petition made to Congress. It is uncertain whether Dr. Walker's request was granted, but she never stopped fighting for social reforms, becoming a writer and lecturer on the topics of women's rights, temperance, and dress reform, both at home and abroad. Document is toned and very boldly penned. Mounting traces on verso of last leaf; pin hole at upper center. From the Judith Kaplan Collection of Women's History. From the Judith Kaplan Women's History Collection.
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