Mercy Street, PBS’ original Civil War drama in more than a decade, returns for a second season Sunday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. Again this year we’ve invited Tennessee State Museum curator Rob DeHart to write a weekly blog post that will draw on the museum’s collection to localize the story to the Middle Tennessee region.
DeHart has 16 years of museum experience and is a curator at the Tennessee State Museum here in Nashville where he specializes in technology and cultural history. He is currently developing content about the period from 1760 to 1850 for the new state museum opening on the corner of Jefferson Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard in 2018. DeHart received his M.A. in public history from Middle Tennessee State University and is a peer reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums.
Mercy Street revolves around the staff and patients of Mansion House, a Union hospital that has been set up in a former hotel owned by a Confederate-sympathizing family in the occupied city of Alexandria, Va. Season 2 begins with a visit by President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of a thwarted assassination attempt. Loyalties shift this season as doctors, nurses, military personnel, locals, free persons of color and slaves coexist in a rapidly changing and dangerous time and place.
Much of the original cast returns, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead as feisty New Englander and widow nurse Mary Phinney; Josh Radnor as Dr. Jedediah Foster, a civilian contract surgeon who grew up in a privileged Southern slave-owning family; McKinley Belcher III as Samuel Diggs, a free black laborer with a secret knowledge of and ability in medicine learned as a young servant; and AnnaSophia Robb as Alice Green, who becomes the most fervently committed member of her family.
Mercy Street airs Sundays at 7 p.m. through March 5, with a break for the Academy Awards on Feb. 26. Watch this space for NPT’s Mercy Street blog posts in the coming weeks.