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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Mary Walker

b. 1832, Oswego, New York; d. 1919, Oswego, New York

Mary Walker earned a physician’s certificate from the Syracuse Medical College in 1855 and volunteered as a surgeon during the Civil War (1861–65). In 1865, she was awarded the Congressional Medal for her service, the first woman to be so honored. Walker not only tested the sexist barriers of the medical profession, she also challenged the conventions of women’s clothing, donning trousers and men’s hats throughout her life. She contributed to the fight for women’s suffrage by lecturing around the country and testifying before Congress.