Joseph Kelly, Doctoral Student in Economic and Social History at the University of LiverpoolJoseph Kelly is a CASE student working with the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool on a project entitled ‘Supply Chains and Transnational Bonds: Slavery and Capitalism in Anti-Slavery Britain’. Joe’s research interests have led to his involvement in an exciting visiting exhibition from the US on the medical implications of the American Civil War.

From April to June 2015 the University of Liverpool is hosting the US Library of Medicine exhibition Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War, and will also be exhibiting fascinating books and artefacts, newly created digital art and original research by staff and students like Joe.

The perspectives of surgeons, physicians, and nurses are well documented in the history of American Civil War medicine, and the display highlights the heroism and brutality of battlefield operations, and the challenges of caring for the wounded afterwards. It also focuses on the experiences of often forgotten common foot soldiers, the men who suffered the most during the conflict and in the years afterwards. Life and Limb shines a spotlight on disabled veterans and their role as symbols of the fractured nation.

Joe said about his involvement in the project:

I am a first year PhD candidate in the Department of History working on the relationship between British business and slavery. However, I am also interested in the links between Liverpool and the Confederacy. The Life & Limb exhibition’s theme of medicine, trauma and the American Civil War has great relevance to my own interest as Southern supporters in Liverpool organised a fundraiser for wounded soldiers in 1864. My poster details how this fundraiser, the Southern Bazaar, stressed the poverty and injury of Confederate soldiers to appeal to British humanitarian concern. Despite these altruistic aims the entertainment at the bazaar often had an anti-northern and pro-slavery overtones; this is a somewhat jarring contradiction of British claims to neutrality and anti-slavery sentiment during the Civil War years.” 

19 Abercromby Square in Liverpool, where the exhibition is being held, has a rich history, with specific links to medical innovators, military doctors, and to the American Civil War itself, and these also form a part of the display. Alongside the exhibition, a companion book will be published through Liverpool University Press, Life and Limb: Perspectives on the American Civil War.

For more information on the Life and Limb exhibit please see the exhibition Facebook page, blog or twitter account.