Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Mary Walker

Mary Edward Walker was born on November 26, 1832, in Oswego, New York. In 1855, Walker became the second women to graduate from Syracuse Medical College. She practiced medicine in Rome, New York, with her husband Albert Miller, whom she divorced in 1869. During the Civil War, Walker volunteered for the Union Armys tent hospitals and was captured by the Confederate army. Her time as a prisoner of war earned her a Medal of Honor, making her the only woman to have received the award. After the Civil War, Walkers progressive politics led her to the National Dress Reform Association. Walker often wore traditionally male clothing, despite considerable backlash. In the 1870s, she joined the womens suffrage movement and tried to register to vote in 1871 but was denied. In 1912 and 1914 Walker testified on womens suffrage before the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1916 the Medal of Honor Board struck Walker from the Army Medal of Honor Roll, but her Medal of Honor was restored in 1977. Walker died on February 21, 1919. You can find more about Mary Walker and her work in Gender Benders, 1782-1920 by Jonathan Ned Katz.