Medicine as profession - "gatekeeping". 

Authority, expertise


Colonial America -

Family, community healers

Domestic medical manuals, herbs


apprenticeship training


Medical College of Philadelphia 1765.


1810-1820 med schools Baltimore, Cincinnati, Vermont, Western New York


Mainstream medical care

"heroic measures" (bleeding, purging, blistering, heavy doses of mercury)


Sectarianism -

homeopaths "law of similars"

hydropathy - water treatment

Thomsonianism - botanic medicine

1900 160 med schools in US

   1893 Johns Hopkins

1904 AMA Council on Medical Education - Abraham Flexner - 1910 Flexner report


Edward Clarke: "God forbid I should ever see men & women aiding each other to display with the scalpel the secrets of the reproductive system or charmingly discuss syphilis together." "separate spheres"

1892: "Medicine is disgusting to women accustomed to the soft side of life."

1871 president AMA called women in medicine "monstrous productions seeking to rival men"; editor Buffalo Med Journal called women doctors "loathsome & disgusting"


Godey's Lady's Book: "Talk about medicine being the appropriate sphere of man alone!  With tenfold more plausibility & reason, might we say, it is the appropriate sphere of women alone."


1870s Boston Med Journal:

"And when the ladies get degrees,

depend on it there's nothing will please,

til they have got our chairs and fees,

and there's an end of you and me."


nurses "proper station" -

Journal American Medical Association 1901: nurse too "often conceited & too unconscious of the due subordination she owes to the medical profession." 


Elizabeth Blackwell -

born England 1821,

Geneva College, New York - degree 1849

1853 NY Infirmary for Women & Children

sister Emily Blackwell


Harriot Hunt

Born 1805

1835 set up medical practice in Boston,

1847 applied Harvard: "it seemed farcical to asked whether a woman who had been practicing medicine many years might be allowed to share the privilege of drinking at the fountains of science - a privilege which would not impoverish them, but make me rich indeed."

no woman "of true delicacy" would want to attend medical lectures - "We object to having the company of any female forced upon us, who is disposed to unsex herself & sacrifice her modesty by appearing with men in the medical lecture room." 

"If I had had cholera, I could not have been more avoided than I was."


1848 New England Female Medical College

"that nice sense of delicacy which is the ornament of the female character, the soul of virtue & the safeguard of morals, would be maintained."

Graduates get title "doctress"

Other women doctors disappointed: "Not one of my expectations for a thorough medical education for women has been realized.  If it were the intention of the trustees to supply the country with ill-educated women under the name of physicians, the NEFMC is on the right track."


1864 Rebecca Lee - practice in Richmond, VA. 

Mary Thompson Chicago & 1865 hospital for women & children

NEFMC collapsed early 1870s.


Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania - 1850, Philadelphia

Degrees "would not be inferior to those of any other medical institution of this country."



Marie Zakrewska

- born Berlin 1829,

1849 study at Prussian medical school

1853 to New York

Cleveland Medical College

1862 set up New England Hospital for Women & Children - Boston

support from Woman's Journal


Mary Jacobi: "You must combine to resolve the difficulties which stand in your way to prevent woman from demonstrating her ability.  We have not yet reached the time when it will be as natural for a family to employ a woman physician as a man.  To bring about this state will require much individual & collective persistent effort."


Women's Med. Coll. Of PA: "We look to you [women doctors] to elevate the profession's standards.  You bring to the profession the spirit & life of true woman and infuse more purity in the ranks."


Boston peaked 1900 - women 18.2% city's doctors - Boston University, Tufts


overall, women probably peak at 6% of all American doctors in 1910;

1893 Woman's Medical Journal


1881 committee including Zakrzewka & Blackwell raised $50,000 to make Harvard coed; raise to $500,000 for Johns Hopkins;

Mary Jacobi: "It is astonishing how many firm objections to admitting women, listing feasibility, modesty & propriety will melt away before the charmed touch of a few thousand dollars." 


Emily Blackwell: "We had held open the doors for women until broader gates had swung wide for their admission."


1902-1926 number of women medical students down 25%.

Hopkins women 33% of class in 1896, 10% 1916. 

Michigan from 25% in 1890 to 3% 1910. 


1935 half US hospitals still never employed woman doctor.


Medical College of Chicago - founded in 1870,

By 1892 graduated 350 women doctors, merge with Northwestern University;

1902 Northwestern closes women's division - not allowed again til 1926 with gift from Mrs. Montgomery Ward,


Florence Sabin (1871-1953) -

Undergrad degree Smith 1893, entered Hopkins med sch 1896.

1900 Hopkins MD

1902 first woman faculty member Hopkins Med Sch, assistant professor in anatomy

first woman full professor in histology - development blood cells, lymph nodes;

1925 NY's Rockefeller Institute - work on tuberculosis;

1944 Colorado public health committee - lobbying state for reform legislation, reorganizing state health dept. 


Alice Hamilton (1869-1970)

Degree Michigan 1893

Working with Jane Addams at Hull House, Chicago

1911 US govt's Bureau of Labor

industrial health - lead, radium

1918 Harvard position of industrial medicine in school of public health