Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Jason Phillips

Committee Co-Chair

Elizabeth Fones Wolf

Committee Member

Ken Fones Wolf

Committee Member

Brian Luskey

Committee Member

Aaron Sheehan-Dean


The Civil War produced over 350,000 permanently disabled men, in addition to millions of other types of injuries and diseases. Yet, despite the overwhelming destruction to men's bodies the war also laid the foundation for a number of notable advances. These generative changes include increased collaboration between medical professionals, an estimable reputation for individual surgeons, a budding international reputation for American medicine, nursing opportunities for upper class women, a rise in volunteerism in the north, and a public acceptance of anatomical study and exhibition. For all the prolific effects of the war, however, these transformations all required one thing, the destruction of soldiers' bodies. It is the purpose of this study to demonstrate that disabled bodies played an integral role of shaping how civilians and soldiers perceived the wreckage surrounding them while also allowing them to recognize the benefits of such destruction. This study also examines how surgeons, nurses, gawkers, and museum goers drew personal connections with broken bodies within nineteenth-century perceptions of ability and disability.