Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




At a time when women had little chance to express themselves outside their homes, the Civil War emergency created opportunities for many to involve themselves in a patriotic cause and to gain wide recognition for their efforts. It is difficult for us to realize what this meant to able intelligent women who often realized a new sense of worth and great personal satisfaction in their benevolent work.

In her role as directress of the Milwaukee Ladies Association, young Lydia Ely Hewitt found a splendid opportunity to express her unusual gifts of leadership and initiative. Her natural ability to organize, coupled with an indomitable spirit and a remarkable business sense, were responsible for the formation of a highly effective relief society during the Civil War. That Lydia Ely Hewitt enjoy­ed the challenge of her work and found in it a stimulating outlet for her ambitions and talents is evident. The soldier's relief was but the prelude to the many causes that were to spur her ardent nature. Mrs. Colt, Mrs. Narzo, Mrs. Olin, Mrs. Aiken--other devoted women there certainly were, but Lydia Ely Hewitt's spirit is like a band of color that moves through the Civil War period to the turn of the century. Her sympathy and concern for the troops together with an intense public spirit and loyalty to Milwaukee, later caused her to be called the "woman patriot."

Her experience of relief work during the war and the warm appreciation she held for that cause enabled her to hold fast to the dream of a Soldier's Home in Milwaukee. Much later the same keen sense of gratitude fired her determination to see a Civil War monument erected in the city.