With the outbreak of the Civil War she offered her services, gratis, to the secretary of war in April 1861. She was given the responsibility “to select and assign women nurses to general and permanent military hospitals.” Two months later, she was named Superintendent of Women Nurses.
Dix rented a house in Washington at her own expense, advertised nationally for volunteers, and weeded out those she thought physically or morally unsuitable. She accepted only nurses over thirty years of age and refused to allow Roman Catholic nuns or other religious orders to serve. Independent, autocratic, eccentric, working outside of established lines of authority and assuming powers beyond her responsibility, she antagonized the medical establishment. Military doctors, supported by the U.S. Sanitary Commission, resented her domineering intrusions. Although her authority was reaffirmed by Surgeon General William A. Hammond in July 1862, in October of that year Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton issued an order that gave the appointment, assignment, and control of nurses to hospital surgeons and medical directors. Dix was left without authority. She continued to work in the hospitals in the Washington area, however, and did not relinquish her title as superintendent until September 1866.
Dix returned to her interest in the insane. In 1881, ill, she accepted an apartment offered to her at the New Jersey State Hospital in Trenton, where she lived until her death.
[See also Sanitary Commission, U.S.]
Francis Tiffany , Life of Dorothea Lynde Dix, 1890.
David Gollaher , Voice for the Mad: The Life of Dorothea Dix, 1995.
David L. Cowen
William Tuke, 1732–1822, English merchant and philanthropist. He succeeded at an early age to the family business at York in wholesale tea and coffee. He is remembered as the chief founder of the York Retreat (opened 1796), an influential early institution for the intelligent and humane care of the insane. His son Henry Tuke, 1755–1814, was a cofounder of the retreat. Henry Tuke's son Samuel Tuke, 1784–1857, continued in the family business and interested himself in the conditions of the insane. His Description of the Retreat (1813) had great influence in reforming the treatment of insanity. Samuel Tuke's son James Hack Tuke, 1819–96, also entered the family business and aided in the management of the York Retreat. He long engaged in philanthropic aid to Ireland. His brother Daniel Hack Tuke, 1827–95, was an eminent physician whose study of insanity resulted in a valuable treatise, A Manual of Psychological Medicine (with J. C. Bucknill, 1858).