Sister Matilda Coskery
1799 - 1870

Courtesy Daughters of Charity Archives

Sister Matilda Coskery was born Anastasia on November 21, 1799, in Maryland, USA to Irish-American John Coskery (1766–1834) and English-American Jacoba Clementina Bathilda Spalding (1772–1850). In the early and mid-19th century, Sister Matilda Coskery was recognized by the Sisters of Charity of St. Josephs community, patients, and physicians of the time as an expert in the care of the insane. Her detailed instruction on nursing, "Advices Concerning the Sick" (c.1840) published in its entirety in Enlightened Charity (Golden Apple Publications, 2009) predates Nightingale's Notes on Nursing. The early sister-nurses’ values of humility, simplicity, and charity inspired their nursing. Sister Matilda reminded nurses of the importance of the simplest nursing interventions such as the proper preparation of herbal teas for patients. The preparation of teas was just one of many healing traditions, enduring time and travel between cultures that can be traced through more than 300 years of the sisters’ compassionate care linking American nursing with the French. The core values of respect for every patient and kindness as the remedy of remedies of the Vincent de Paul-Louise de Marillac nursing confraternity begun in France in 1633 stood the test of cultural translation across the Atlantic. Sister Matilda died in 1870 after serving as a sister-nurse for 41 years with the Sisters/Daughters of Charity.

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