Helen M. Noye Hoyt papers  1863-1925 (bulk 1863-1864)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Of the 70 items in this collection, 57 are letters Helen Noye wrote during her 11 months as a volunteer nurse at the Naval Academy Hospital. Most of these letters are addressed to her entire family or her parents. Eleven are addressed to her siblings and one to her aunt. She also sent four letters to a ladies church group in Buffalo.

The letters from Helen are about a variety of subjects concerning her work and life as a volunteer nurse. She wrote about distributing food to the wounded soldiers, writing letters for them and finding ways to amuse them, such as organizing hymn singing. Her deep religious sentiments led her to read sermons and the Bible to her patients and she often wrote about Christian soldiers and the conversations she had about religion. She also wrote about the suffering of the wounded soldiers whom she tended, including a number of amputees. Occasionally she wrote the details of a soldier's death, often reflecting on his religious sprit just before he died.

Helen also wrote about the world around her, including descriptions of the quarters she lived in and the layout of the camp. She wrote about the places she visited including a trip to the capitol, nearby Camp Parole, College--Green--Barracks, and a visit to a Russian ship sent to fight for the Union. Helen also mentioned her clothing in the letters as she was often requesting items from home.

Descriptions of food show up in many of Helen's letters, some contain recipes. She sent notes to her church society about how the food they sent was appreciated and what they should send more of. After being put in charge of food for her section in March, her letters are filled with descriptions of what she made and served the soldiers, comments on full and half diet, and problems that arose in the kitchen.

Helen also made general comments on African--Americans she encountered while at the hospital, noting that there was a separate building for black soldiers and the different levels of education they have. Helen also wrote about former slave women and children who followed the Union Army.

In one letter sent to her church group, Helen included a thank you note written by an anonymous soldier.

Two later letters are also with the collection; one letter dated 3/18/1872 is to Helen from her father, the other dated 8/15/1875 is to Helen from her husband Birney Hoyt describing iron processing at Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Four photographs in the collection are pictures of the hospital supplies tent, with Dr. Vanderkeift, Chaplain Sloane, and Helen in front of it; a row of tents with a number of solider and women standing in front of them; and portraits of Dr. Vanderkeift and his wife taken in 1864.

There is a three page "sketch" by Helen about her experience as an army nurse summarizing her time there and mentioning a few specific events. There is also a receipt and an envelope both from 1925 on the back of which Helen jotted down notes about her time at the Naval Academy Hospital.

Miscellaneous items include two permission slips given to Helen while she was at the Hospital. One is from 5/6/1864 and is for "Helen M. Noye and party to go across the Severn river in a small boat." The other is a travel pass from 7/6/1864, verifying Helen's loyalty. One short newspaper clipping that was written by a former patient of the Annapolis General Hospital on how well he was treated there. And a detailed lithograph of the "U.S. General Hospital Div. No.1"

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