A 20-cent commemorative stamp honoring Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, Civil War surgeon and advocate of women's rights, was issued June 10, 1982, at her birthplace, Oswego, New York. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held at the Oswego High School.
Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919) was the first woman awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal was awarded in 1865. After becoming the second woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree (Elizabeth Blackwell was the first), she volunteered for the Union Army, serving near the front lines as a field surgeon for several years. In addition to treating wounded soldiers, she often crossed the lines to treated civilians affected by the war. On one such occasion, she was captured by Confederates and spent four months as a prisoner of war. Walker devoted much of her life to advocating for women's rights, including dress reform. In 1917, Walker's medal was one of more than nine hundred that the U.S. Army rescinded, but she defiantly refused to return it. President Jimmy Carter reinstated the medal in 1977.
The stamp was designed by Glenora Richards of New Canaan, Connecticut, and modeled by Ronald C. Sharpe. It was printed in the photogravure process, with fifty stamps per pane.