Pamela D. Toler was guest host of #LitChat at 4 p.m. ET on January 25, 2016. Read the chatscript from her #LitChat session here.
Heroines of Mercy Street, by Pamela D. Toler, is the companion book to the new six-part PBS drama Mercy Street, which premiered in the U.S. on January 17, 2016. While the series, Mercy Street, takes viewers beyond the battlefield and into the lives of Americans on the Civil War home front, Toler’s book records the true stories of the nurses at Mansion House, the Alexandria, Virginia, mansion turned war-time hospital and setting for the television series.
Among the Union soldiers, doctors, wounded men from both sides, freed slaves, politicians, speculators, and spies who passed through the hospital in the crossroads of the Civil War, were nurses who gave their time freely and willingly to save lives and aid the wounded. Heroines of Mercy Street features historical women such as Dorothea Dix, Mary Phinney, Anne Reading, and others during, and after their epic struggle in Alexandria. Even more revealing is their personal contributions to this astounding period in the advancement of medicine. These women saw casualties on a scale Americans had never seen before, and medicine was at a turning point.
Mercy Street airs Sundays at 10/9c on PBS stations. You can purchase Heroines of Mercy Street at bookstores or from online booksellers.
Pamela D. Toler is the author of The Everything Guide to Socialism; Mankind: The Story of All of Us and most recently, Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War.
Toler grew up in Springfield, Missouri, where she participated in living history programs at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, learned to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle, and read and re-read the biographies of women like Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her life as a history buff took an abrupt turn when she fell in love with Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. It was the first step on the path to a PhD in South Asia history from the University of Chicago and a lifelong fascination with the times and places where two cultures meet and change each other.
These days she focuses on historical figures that step outside the constraints of their time. With Heroines of Mercy Street, Toler has returned to her first historical love: the Civil War in general and its impact on women in particular.
Follow Pamela D. Toler on Twitter: @pdtoler.