Blog Post: Louisa May Alcott's Civil War

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials
Date Posted: 7/9/2012

In this post, students will explore Louisa May Alcott's service as a nurse during the Civil War. While Alcott is perhaps best known as the author of the 19th-century classic Little Women, she also served as a Union nurse in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown’s Union Hotel Hospital from December 13, 1862 to January 21, 1863. Though Alcott’s term of service was cut short after she contracted typhoid pneumonia, she used her brief wartime experience as a basis for her second published book, Hospital Sketches. Yet unlike many Civil War nurses who waited until after the war to publish their memoirs, Alcott’s appeared in print in 1863 before the war’s end, allowing fellow nurses such as Amanda Akin to read passages from the book to their patients. Written by Kevin Konrad, an exhibition researcher, this post is published on the Museum's "O Say Can You See?" blog.

National Standards

Historical Thinking Standards (Grades K-4)

Standards in History (Grades K-4)

United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)

World History Standards (Grades 5-12)

Historical Thinking Standards (Grades 5-12)

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (Grades K-2)

2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts

D2.Civ.1.K-2. (Civics): Describe roles and responsibilities of people in authority.
D2.Civ.2.K-2. (Civics): Explain how all people, not just official leaders, play important roles in a community.
D2.Civ.3.K-2. (Civics): Explain the need for and purposes of rules in various settings inside and outside of school.
D2.Civ.5.K-2. (Civics): Explain what governments are and some of their functions.
D2.Civ.6.K-2. (Civics): Describe how communities work to accomplish common tasks, establish responsibilities, and fulfill roles of authority.
D2.Civ.7.K-2. (Civics): Apply civic virtues when participating in school settings.
D2.Civ.8.K-2. (Civics): Describe democratic principles such as equality, fairness, and respect for legitimate authority and rules.
D2.Civ.9.K-2 (Civics): Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions while responding attentively to others when addressing ideas and making decisions as a group.
D2.Civ.10.K-2. (Civics): Compare their own point of view with others' perspectives.
D2.Civ.11.K-2. (Civics): Explain how people can work together to make decisions in the classroom.
D2.Civ.12.K-2. (Civics): Identify and explain how rules function in public (classroom and school) settings.
D2.Civ.14.K-2. (Civics): Describe how people have tried to improve their communities over time.
D2.Eco.1.K-2. (Economics): Explain how scarcity necessitates decision making.
D2.Eco.2.K-2. (Economics): Identify the benefits and costs of making various personal decisions.
D2.Eco.3.K-2. (Economics): Describe the skills and knowledge required to produce certain goods and services.
D2.Eco.4.K-2. (Economics): Describe the goods and services that people in the local community produce and those that are produced in other communities.
D2.Eco.5.K-2. (Economics): Identify prices of products in a local market.
D2.Eco.6.K-2. (Economics): Explain how people earn income.
D2.Eco.7.K-2. (Economics): Describe examples of costs of production.
D2.Eco.9.K-2. (Economics): Describe the role of banks in an economy.
D2.Eco.10.K-2. (Economics): Explain why people save.
D2.Eco.12.K-2. (Economics): Describe examples of the goods and services that governments provide.
D2.Eco.13.K-2. (Economics): Describe examples of capital goods and human capital.
D2.Eco.14.K-2. (Economics): Describe why people in one country trade goods and services with people in other countries.
D2.Eco.15.K-2. (Economics): Describe products that are produced abroad and sold domestically and products that are produced domestically and sold abroad.
D2.Geo.1.K-2. (Geography): Construct maps, graphs, and other representations of familiar places.
D2.Geo.2.K-2. (Geography): Use maps, graphs, photographs, and other representations to describe places and the relationships and interactions that shape them.
D2.Geo.3.K-2. (Geography): Use maps, globes, and other simple geographic models to identify cultural and environmental characteristics of places.
D2.Geo.4.K-2. (Geography): Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people's lives in a place or region.
D2.Geo.5.K-2. (Geography): Describe how human activities affect the cultural and environmental characteristics of places or regions.
D2.Geo.6.K-2. (Geography): Identify some cultural and environmental characteristics of specific places.
D2.Geo.7.K-2. (Geography): Explain why and how people, goods, and ideas move from place to place.
D2.Geo.8.K-2. (Geography): Compare how people in different types of communities use local and distant environments to meet their daily needs.
D2.Geo.9.K-2. (Geography): Describe the connections between the physical environment of a place and the economic activities found there.
D2.Geo.10.K-2.(Geography): Describe changes in the physical and cultural characteristics of various world regions.
D2.Geo.11.K-2. (Geography): Explain how the consumption of products connects people to distant places.
D2.Geo.12.K-2. (Geography): Identify ways that a catastrophic disaster may affect people living in a place.
D2.His.1.K-2. (History): Create a chronological sequence of multiple events.
D2.His.2.K-2.(History): Compare life in the past to life today.
D2.His.3.K-2. (History): Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped a significant historical change.
D2.His.4.K-2. (History): Compare perspectives of people in the past to those of people in the present.
D2.His.6.K-2 (History): Compare different accounts of the same historical event.
D2.His.9.K-2. (History): Identify different kinds of historical sources.
D2.His.10.K-2. (History): Explain how historical sources can be used to study the past.
D2.His.11.K-2. (History): Identify the maker, date, and place of origin for a historical source from information within the source itself.
D2.His.12.K-2. (History): Generate questions about a particular historical source as it relates to a particular historical event or development.
D2.His.14.K-2. (History): Generate possible reasons for an event or development in the past.
D2.His.16.K-2. (History): Select which reasons might be more likely than others to explain a historical event or development.

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (Grades 9-12)

2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts

D2.Civ.1.9-12. (Civics): Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.
D2.Civ.2.9-12. (Civics): Analyze the role of citizens in the U.S. political system, with attention to various theories of democracy, changes in Americans' participation over time, and alternative models from other countries, past and present.
D2.Civ.3.9-12. (Civics): Analyze the impact of constitutions, laws, treaties, and international agreements on the maintenance of national and international order.
D2.Civ.4.9-12.(Civics): Explain how the U.S. Constitution establishes a system of government that has powers, responsibilities, and limits that have changed over time and that are still contested.
D2.Civ.5.9-12. (Civics): Evaluate citizens' and institutions' effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
D2.Civ.6.9-12. (Civics): Critique relationships among governments, civil societies, and economic markets.
D2.Civ.7.9-12. (Civics): Apply civic virtues and democratic principles when working with others.
D2.Civ.8.9-12. (Civics): Evaluate social and political systems in different contexts, times, and places, that promote civic virtues and enact democratic principles.
D2.Civ.9.9-12 (Civics): Use appropriate deliberative processes in multiple settings.
D2.Civ.10.9-12. (Civics): Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
D2.Civ.11.9-12. (Civics): Evaluate multiple procedures for making governmental decisions at the local, state, national, and international levels in terms of the civic purposes achieved.
D2.Civ.12.9-12. (Civics): Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.
D2.Civ.13.9-12. (Civics): Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
D2.Civ.14.9-12. (Civics): Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
D2.Eco.1.9-12. (Economics): Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
D2.Eco.2.9-12. (Economics): Use marginal benefits and marginal costs to construct an argument for or against an approach or solution to an economic issue.
D2.Eco.3.9-12. (Economics): Analyze the ways in which incentives influence what is produced and distributed in a market system.
D2.Eco.4.9-12. (Economics): Evaluate the extent to which competition among sellers and among buyers exists in specific markets.
D2.Eco.5.9-12. (Economics): Describe the consequences of competition in specific markets.
D2.Eco.6.9-12. (Economics): Generate possible explanations for a government role in markets when market inefficiencies exist.
D2.Eco.7.9-12. (Economics): Use benefits and costs to evaluate the effectiveness of government policies to improve market outcomes.
D2.Eco.8.9-12. (Economics): Describe the possible consequences, both intended and unintended, of government policies to improve market outcomes.
D2.Eco.9.9-12. (Economics): Describe the roles of institutions such as clearly defined property rights and the rule of law in a market economy.
D2.Eco.10.9-12. (Economics): Use current data to explain the influence of changes in spending, production, and the money supply on various economic conditions.
D2.Eco.11.9-12. (Economics): Use economic indicators to analyze the current and future state of the economy.
D2.Eco.12.9-12. (Economics): Evaluate the selection of monetary and fiscal policies in a variety of economic conditions.
D2.Eco.13.9-12. (Economics): Explain why advancements in technology and investments in capital goods and human capital increase economic growth and standards of living.
D2.Eco.14.9-12. (Economics): Analyze the role of comparative advantage in international trade of goods and services.
D2.Eco.15.9-12. (Economics): Explain how current globalization trends and policies affect economic growth, labor markets, rights of citizens, the environment, and resource and income distribution in different nations.
D2.Geo.1.9-12. (Geography): Use geospatial and related technologies to create maps to display and explain the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics.
D2.Geo.2.9-12. (Geography): Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.
D2.Geo.3.9-12. (Geography): Use geographic data to analyze variations in the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics at multiple scales.
D2.Geo.4.9-12. (Geography): Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.
D2.Geo.5.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate how political and economic decisions throughout time have influenced cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.
D2.Geo.6.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.
D2.Geo.7.9-12. (Geography): Analyze the reciprocal nature of how historical events and the spatial diffusion of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices have influenced migration patterns and the distribution of human population.
D2.Geo.8.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate the impact of economic activities and political decisions on spatial patterns within and among urban, suburban, and rural regions.
D2.Geo.9.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
D2.Geo.10.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade and land use.
D2.Geo.11.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.
D2.Geo.12.9-12. (Geography): Evaluate the consequences of human-made and natural catastrophes on global trade, politics, and human migration.
D2.His.1.9-12. (History): Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
D2.His.2.9-12. (History): Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.
D2.His.3.9-12. (History): Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.
D2.His.4.9-12. (History): Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.
D2.His.5.9-12. (History): Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people's perspectives.
D2.His.6.9-12. (History): Analyze the ways in which the perspectives of those writing history shaped the history that they produced.
D2.His.7.9-12. (History): Explain how the perspectives of people in the present shape interpretations of the past.
D2.His.8.9-12. (History): Analyze how current interpretations of the past are limited by the extent to which available historical sources represent perspectives of people at the time.
D2.His.9.9-12. (History): Analyze the relationship between historical sources and the secondary interpretations made from them.
D2.His.10.9-12. (History): Detect possible limitations in various kinds of historical evidence and differing secondary interpretations.
D2.His.11.9-12. (History): Critique the usefulness of historical sources for a specific historical inquiry based on their maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose.
D2.His.12.9-12. (History): Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.
D2.His.13.9-12. (History): Critique the appropriateness of the historical sources used in a secondary interpretation.
D2.His.14.9-12. (History): Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
D2.His.15.9-12. (History): Distinguish between long-term causes and triggering events in developing a historical argument.
D2.His.16.9-12. (History): Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
D2.His.17.9-12. (History): Critique the central arguments in secondary works of history on related topics in multiple media in terms of their historical accuracy.

4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action

D4.1.9-12. (Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions): Construct arguments using precise and knowledgeable claims, with evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging counterclaims and evidentiary weaknesses.
D4.2.9-12. (Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions): Construct explanations using sound reasoning, correct sequence (linear or non-linear), examples, and details with significant and pertinent information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanation given its purpose (e.g., cause and effect, chronological, procedural, technical).
D4.3.9-12. (Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions): Present adaptations of arguments and explanations that feature evocative ideas and perspectives on issues and topics to reach a range of audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., Internet, social media, and digital documentary).
D4.4.9-12. (Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions): Critique the use of claims and evidence in arguments for credibility.
D4.5.9-12. (Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions): Critique the use of the reasoning, sequencing, and supporting details of explanations.
D4.6.9-12. (Taking Informed Action): Use disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses to understand the characteristics and causes of local, regional, and global problems; instances of such problems in multiple contexts; and challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address these problems over time and place.
D4.7.9-12. (Taking Informed Action): Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
D4.8.9-12. (Taking Informed Action): Apply a range of deliberative and democratic strategies and procedures to make decisions and take action in their classrooms, schools, and out-of-school civic contexts.