Phoebe Yates LevyPember

Phoebe Yates Levy Pember managed a hospital through the chaos of the Civil War and left an account of her life that offered a window into daily life for Jews in Southern high society. A young widow, Pember sought to hold on to her new-found independence by becoming matron and first female administrator of the Chimborazo Hospital near Richmond, Virginia in 1862. She oversaw nursing operations as well as housekeeping and food, and maintained a friendly but firm authority, loved for her feminine charms and her dedication to her patients, but willing to threaten a staff member with a gun when he attempted to steal whiskey from the hospital’s supplies. After the war, Pember travelled throughout America and Europe. Her account of her life, A Southern Woman’s Story: Life in Confederate Richmond, described her time at the hospital through the war years as well as her experiences as a proud but assimilated Jew welcomed into the tight-knit world of the South’s elite.

Topics: Medicine, Memoirs

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Phoebe Yates Pember was a Richmond nurse during the Civil War. She served as the matron of Richmond's Chimborazo Hospital, reportedly the largest military hospital in the world in the 1860s.

Courtesy of UNC Chapel Hill Libraries

This photo is in the public domain

Date of Birth

Charleston, SC
United States

Date of Death
Nurse, Administrator, Writer

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Phoebe Yates Levy Pember." (Viewed on August 8, 2020) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox