Anne Reading, an ordinary woman from London describes her extraordinary life. In 1855 she travels to the Crimea with Florence Nightingale and nurses the sick and wounded of the British Army. Five years later, she takes a six week voyage to New York aboard a sailing ship.
Anne finds work at St. Lukes hospital. The following year brings the start of the Civil War. In 1862 Anne leaves St. Lukes and travels south to the headquarters of the Union Army in Washington. She was hired by Dorothea Dix, Superintendent of female nurses to the Federal Army and also known as the American Florence Nightingale.
Annes saga becomes the story of her life among the wounded. She describes experiences on hospital ships and in a former hotel converted into a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. The diary chronicles the impact of atrocities on the soldiers. The general social unrest which developed in the northern cities as the war continues and the riots against the drafting of young men into the army against their will, makes very interesting reading.
Anne married Andrew Furry in October, 1862 and soon gave up nursing and returned to the New York area. She does different work while waiting for him to be released from the army. She provides a detailed account of the death of President Lincoln and an eye witness account of his lying in state and funeral procession through New York in 1865.
The diary continues with the Furrys married life in Pennsylvania and New Jersey highlighted with the marriage of Annes younger sister, Jenny and a swimming party at Coney Island. In 1870, Anne Furrys mother, Anne Reading writes about her trip to visit her daughter, with another daughter and the diary closes with the two of them returning to Bethnal Green, London, one year later.