Phoebe Levy Yates Pember and Annie Bell:
Confederate Jew and Union Christian and Their
Remarkable Service in Civil War Military Hospitals
Presenter: Dr. Sandra Moss
Phoebe Levy Yates Pember, daughter of a Charleston Jewish family, served as the first matron of the massive Chimborazo Military Hospital in Confederate Richmond. Her memoir of her Civil War service, A Southern Woman's Story: Life in Confederate Richmond, documented immense suffering, critical shortages of food and medical supplies, and haphazard medical care as the noose tightened around the Confederate capital. Confrontational, smart, and compassionate, Pember comforted the dying and fought Confederate and later occupying Union officers on behalf of "her" soldiers, even as she moved in the elite social circles of Confederate Richmond.
Pember was one of four women portrayed on a twenty-stamp sheet issued by the United States Postal Service in 1995. The stamp itself is something of an enigma. Present but invisible on the Pember stamp is another Civil War hospital matron—a Christian Union loyalist named Annie Bell. Bell was a remarkable young woman of great intelligence and courage. Each of these women was an eishat chayil -- a woman of valor. And both are worthy of our attention.
A brief overview of the response to slavery and secession among Southern Jews completes the presentation. The presentation is illustrated by a Powerpoint presentation.
Sandra Moss, M.D., M.A. (history), is a retired internist. She is the author of four books and many published articles on varied topics in medical history, with a particular interest in New Jersey's medical history. Dr. Moss is past president of the Medical History Society of New Jersey and of the American Osler Society, an international organization devoted to the history of medicine. She is a frequent speaker on a variety of topics in the history of medicine.