Category: Archives for Women in Medicine

A Brief History of Women at the Harvard Chan School

By , October 12, 2017

At “From Riding Breeches to Harvard: Stories of the First Female Harvard Chan School Graduate, Archives for Women in Medicine Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua presented a brief history of women at the Harvard Chan School.

Linda Frances James, 1919

Linda Frances James, 1919

It is now recognized that the Harvard Chan School, then the Harvard-MIT School of Public Health, was the first school at Harvard to credential women on the same basis as men. Graduates earned a certificate in public health at this early school from 1913 until 1922 (when it was renamed the Harvard School of Public Health).  Linda James, a member of the first class, was the first woman to earn this certificate in 1917. James was born in Minnesota in 1891 and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1914. She enrolled as a student at the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers, and earned her certificate of Public Health in 1917. She then took a position as the Director of After-Care Division at the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission. To learn more about Linda James, read “Lost and Found: The First Woman with a Harvard Credential.

 

Alice Hamilton, 1919

Alice Hamilton, 1919

The Harvard-MIT School of Public Health boasts the first woman appointed to a faculty position at any Harvard school. Alice Hamilton was hired as assistant professor and created the Department of Industrial Medicine in 1919. Her appointment was in the faculty of medicine, but her responsibilities were in the Harvard-MIT School of Public Health. Although Dr. Hamilton was Harvard’s first woman professor, she was denied three professorial privileges: she could not participate in Commencement; she could not join the Harvard Club; and she was not given complimentary football tickets. Dr. Hamilton retired in 1935.

The Harvard Chan School also has the honor of being the first school on the Longwood campus to grant degrees to women students. Ann Hogue Stewart and Hester Balch Curtis were both awarded the Master of Public Health in 1936 during Harvard University’s 300th Anniversary. Although it was thought that the Harvard Corporation would bestow degrees upon women in 1936, in actuality, pressure from an influential pediatrician, Martha May Eliot, was why the women were awarded their degrees. Over twenty years later, in 1957, Dr. Eliot became the first woman full professor at the Harvard Chan School and the Chair of the Department of Child and Maternal Health.

Martha May Eliot

Martha May Eliot

Dr. Eliot, whose collection resides at the Scheslinger Library, was a pioneer in maternal and children’s health, the first woman president of the American Public Health Association, the only woman to sign the founding document of the World Health Organization, and the Chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. She taught at the Harvard Chan School until her retirement in 1960.

Women were allowed to attend the Harvard Chan School for degrees after Harvard Medical School opened itself to coeducation in 1945. Since 1994, women have consistently made up approximately 60% of the student body at the Harvard Chan School.


To learn more about the Archives for Women in Medicine program, visit https://countway.harvard.edu/awm or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua at Joan_Ilacqua@hms.harvard.edu.

To learn more about the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health archives, visit https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/harvard-th-chan-school-public-health-archives or contact Archivist Heather Mumford at Heather_Mumford@hms.harvard.edu.

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Announcing the 2017-2018 Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellows

By , September 11, 2017
Maria Dazenbichler

Maria Daxenbichler

Maria Daxenbichler is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University at Buffalo. She holds a Magistra Artium degree in American Studies from Leipzig University, Germany, and a M.A. in American Studies from the Transnational Studies department at the University at Buffalo. Her dissertation investigates how medical researchers in the U.S. changed the field of gynecology between the 1880s and 1920s. Through developing new and allegedly safe abortion techniques, they strengthened their authority over women’s health, reproduction, and medical treatments. They then shared their new knowledge with medical and nursing students in teaching hospitals, thus helping to further professionalize the medical field and establish the authority of formally trained practitioners. She also received a research fellowship from the University of Illinois at Chicago for this project.

Ms. Daxenbichler plans to utilize the Records of New England Hospital for Women and Children, Records of Boston Lying-In Hospital, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records, George Richard Minot Papers, Edward Peirson Richardson Papers, and the Papers of James Read Chadwick.

 

Jordan Katz

Jordan Katz

Jordan Katz is an advanced doctoral student in the Department of History at Columbia University. She specializes in early modern Jewish history, with interests in Jewish cultural history, history of science, and Jewish communal autonomy. Her dissertation examines the role of Jewish midwives and medical women within communal and intellectual frameworks in the early modern Ashkenazic world. She is also interested in culinary history and historical reconstruction.

Ms. Katz has received fellowships from the Center for Jewish History and the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme – Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. Her work has been published in Jewish Quarterly Review.

At the Center, Ms. Katz will consult several 16th and 17th century midwifery treatises including Samuel Janson’s 1680 Korte en Bondige verhandeling, van de voort-teeling en t’ kinderbaren met den aenklave van dien.

We look forward to hosting both fellows at the Center this year!

 


The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellowship is offered in partnership with the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation (formerly the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine). Information regarding the Fellowship program is available at http://www.wimlf.org/fellowships and https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/archives-women-medicine-fellowships.

A program of the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, the Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, preserves, promotes, and provides access to the professional and personal records of outstanding women leaders in medicine and the medical sciences.

 

The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation, formerly the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine, was founded with the strong belief that understanding our history plays a powerful role in shaping our future. The resolute stand women took to establish their place in these fields propels our vision forward. We serve as stewards to the stories from the past, and take pride in sharing them with the women of today. Our mission is to preserve and promote the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences, and we look forward to connecting you to our collective legacy that will empower our future.

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Event Recap: From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician

By , May 23, 2017
Dr. Gesa Kirsch at Countway Library, 25 April 2017

Dr. Gesa Kirsch at Countway Library, 25 April 2017

On April 25th, Dr. Gesa E. Kirsch, Professor of English at Bentley University, presented on her research about Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early 20th century California physician, civic leader, and women’s rights’ activist, and read from her recently published edition of Dr. Ritter’s memoir More than Gold in California: The Life and Work of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter.

During her talk, Dr. Kirsch detailed Dr. Ritter’s life as a physician. Born in 1860, Dr. Ritter earned her MD at Cooper Medical College in San Francisco in 1886, now the Stanford University School of Medicine. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Ritter taught at UC Berkeley and worked as an advocate for women students. In particular, Dr. Kirsch highlighted the story of how Dr. Ritter worked with women students to get around inequalities in facilities on campus:

For example, the men had had a gymnasium and instruction in gymnastics for years. It was assumed to be beneficial to their health and therefore a necessity. But this argument did not apply to the girls. The idea seemed rather to be that regular gymnastic exercise would be detrimental to their well-being. I sometimes felt as if the masculine powers-that-be thought that women were made of glass and might break to pieces if they fell down. But the girls did not think that way.

In the passing years old Harmon Gymnasium had been enlarged to nearly treble the original size, with offices appended in the rear. This made the girls ambitious, until finally a group visited the instructor of gymnastics beseeching the privilege of using the “gym” part of the time. Reluctantly the instructor said, “Of course you have a right to part time in the gymnasium and I would be willing to give you instruction, but the boys use the gym for dressing for track practice – and – and – the only time possible for your use would be after they go home at five o’clock. I would be willing to give you one hour a week at that time.” After the girls had expressed their gratitude for that crumb, he added, “But I could not possibly admit anyone to the class without a medical examination and there is no money for that.”

Alas for his foxy loop-hole! He had not counted on feminine determination. When a woman wants a thing, she wants it. The girls talked matters over and a day or two later the same group called on me and told me their story, asking if I would be willing to make the medical examinations without pay. I readily consented. This was in 1891. The instructor gallantly allowed me to use the gymnasium examining room with its apparatus for the medical tests. Thus the entering wedge was made for the vast amount of fine training of many sorts which the women students have enjoyed these later years in the beautiful Hearst Gymnasium. Until this present year I have never passed the palatial women’s building and then old Harmon Gymnasium without a broad and somewhat sardonic grin.

Mary Bennett Ritter, More Than Gold in California, 201-203.

Dr. Ritter is known as the first unofficial dean for women at UC Berkeley, and was awarded an honorary PhD by UC Berkeley for her work. She published her autobiography More than Gold in California in 1933 and died in 1949. Dr. Kirsch’s current research explores the rhetorical strategies, professional networks, and social activism of a group of late nineteenth-century women physicians through the Women’s Medical Journal. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend to continue this research.

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June 15: Gender and Risk Perception in the Development of Oral Contraceptives, 1940-1968

By , May 12, 2017

The Archives for Women in Medicine and the The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation present:

Gender and Risk Perception in the Development of Oral Contraceptives, 1940-1968

2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship Lecture

Kate Grauvogel:  2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow, Doctoral student in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine Department at Indiana University-Bloomington

Kate Grauvogel is an advanced doctoral student in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine Department at Indiana University-Bloomington. Broadly, her research interests include the history of women’s health, especially pathology and psychiatry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her current research focuses on women and experimentation in medicine, particularly the history of blood clotting disorders in reproductive-age women, and how physicians perceived the whole constellation of gender, reproduction, secretions, clots, and associated diseases.

0002376_drefGrauvogel’s dissertation is entitled “A gendered history of pathology: blood clots, women, and hormones in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” It argues that the bodies of women—whether as obstetric patients, cadavers, or sufferers of side-effects from birth-control pills—shaped pathological theory as well as understandings of the role of secretions (later identifiable as estrogens) in health and disease. It also explores the medical and cultural functions of the Pill in the twentieth century and its impact on women and their lives. In it, she hopes to show how nineteenth-century pathologists and twentieth-century physicians observed pregnant women and women on the birth control pill and gleaned important information from them, such as the idea that fluctuations in estrogens could lead to the formation of dangerous blood clots.

The project as a whole uses primary sources from France, England, and Germany. At the Countway, Grauvogel will add an American perspective from the Boston Hospital for Women Records, 1926–1983, The Free Hospital for Women Records, 1875–1975, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, The Leona Baumgartner Papers, 1830-1979, the Janet Ward McArthur Papers, 1939-2005, and other collections. She will be looking for cases of lying-in illnesses, including blood clotting, which will shed light on how pathologists thought about dangerous blood clots in women as the result of either pregnancy or the Pill. She hopes to emerge with a better grasp of the ailments doctors observed in women, as well as and how they described and thought about such ailments.

 

Thursday, June 15, 2017
5:30pm
Reception at 5:00pm

Waterhouse Room
Gordon Hall
Harvard Medical School
25 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

Registration is required. Register online now through Eventbrite or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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April 25: From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician

By , March 28, 2017

The Archives for Women in Medicine presents:

From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician:

The Advocacy, Activism, and Legacy of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter and her Contemporaries

Dr. Gesa Kirsch: Professor of English at Bentley University

ritter_mb

Dr. Gesa Kirsch will discuss Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early 20th-century woman physician, her cohort of Western women physicians, and the role of the Woman’s Medical Journal in creating and sustaining a large professional network of early women physicians. This lecture will speak directly to Dr. Ritter’s life and leadership and why this story is worthy of restoring to medical and women’s history.

Gesa E. Kirsch is Professor of English at Bentley University. Her work in women’s studies and rhetorical studies is extensive; she has authored and coauthored three books and edited five others. In March 2017, she published a new edition of More Than Gold in California, the memoir of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early California physician, civic leader, and women’s rights’ activist (Globe Pequot Press 2017). Her current research explores the rhetorical strategies, professional networks, and social activism of a group of late nineteenth-century women physicians.

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
5:30pm
Reception at 5:00pm

Minot Room, fifth floor
Countway Library of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

Registration is required. Register online now through Eventbrite or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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Announcing a new exhibit on the history of women at Harvard Medical School

By , March 7, 2017

A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School

“A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School” is now on display on Countway Library’s 2nd floor next to the Joint Committee on the Status of Women library collection.

The exhibit, curated by Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, explores the history of women in medicine at Harvard Medical School. It begins with the story of Harriot Kezia Hunt, Harvard’s first woman applicant, and follows the struggles and triumphs of Harvard Medical School’s first women instructors, researchers, professors, and students, as well as the creation of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women and the Archives for Women in Medicine.

An extended digital version of the exhibit is available via OnView.


The Archives for Women in Medicine is a program of the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, processes, preserves, provides access to, and publicizes the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. Interested in learning more? Visit countway.harvard.edu/awm or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua.

 

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2017-2018 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship: Applications Open

By , February 15, 2017

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellowship

Deadline May 15, 2017

Details

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine is pleased to provide one $5,000 grant to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible research period between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Foundation Fellowships are offered for research related to the history of women to be conducted at the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Preference will be given to:

  • projects that engage specifically with the history of women physicians, other health workers or medical scientists; however, proposals on the history of women’s health issues will also be considered
  • those who are using collections from the Center’s Archives for Women in Medicine, but research on the topic of women in medicine using other material from the Countway Library will be considered
  • applicants who live beyond commuting distance of the Countway; however, all are encouraged to apply, including graduate students

In return, the Foundation requests a one page report on the Fellow’s research experience; a copy of the final product (with the ability to post excerpts from the paper/project); and a photo and bio of the Fellow for web and newsletter announcements. The Fellow will also be asked to present a lecture at the Countway Library.

Application Requirements

Applicants should submit a proposal (no more than five pages) outlining the subject and objectives of the research project, length of residence, historical materials to be used, and a project budget (including travel, lodging, and research expenses), along with a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendations by May 15, 2017. The fellowship proposal should demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic.

Applications should be sent to: The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship, Archives for Women in Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, 10 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115. Electronic submissions of applications and supporting materials and any questions may be directed to chm@hms.harvard.edu or (617) 432-2170.

 

Partnering Organizations

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine, soon to be the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation, was founded with the strong belief that understanding our history plays a powerful role in shaping our future. The resolute stand women took to establish their place in these fields propels our vision forward. We serve as stewards to the stories from the past, and take pride in sharing them with the women of today. Our mission is to preserve and promote the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences, and we look forward to connecting you to our collective legacy that will empower our future.

The Archives for Women in Medicine is a program of the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, processes, preserves, provides access to, and publicizes the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. Learn more about collections open to research on our Archives for Women in Medicine Collections page.

Established in 1960 as a result of an alliance between the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical Library, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is the largest academic medical library in the United States. The Countway Library maintains a collection of approximately 700,000 volumes. The Center for the History of Medicine’s collection of archives and manuscripts, numbering between 15-20 million items, is the largest collection of its kind in the United States. The manuscripts collection includes the personal and professional records of physicians from the medieval and Renaissance periods through the twentieth century, including the professional papers of many renowned Harvard faculty members as well as physicians and scientists from New England and around the country.

The 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellow is Kate Grauvogel, due to conduct research at Countway in June 2017. Previous fellows include Louella McCarthy, Rebecca Kluchin, Ciara Breathnach, Carrie Adkins, and Hilary Aquino.

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17th Alma Dea Morani Award Presented to Paula A. Johnson

By , December 8, 2016

On November 3, 2016, friends and supporters of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine gathered in New York City to celebrate the 2016 Alma Dea Morani Awardee, Paula A. Johnson MD, MPH.

Paula Johnson

Paula Johnson, 2016 Recipient of the Alma Dea Morani Award. Image used with permission of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.

The Alma Dea Morani MD Renaissance Woman Award was established to recognize an exceptional woman in medicine or science who demonstrates professional excellence and a passion for learning and service.

Dr. Paula Johnson, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, is the 14th president of Wellesley College, founder and former Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and former Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Johnson also served as the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in the Field of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Johnson is a pioneer in women’s health and sex difference in medical studies and treatment.

At the award ceremony, Dr. Johnson presented on sex differences in research, medicine, health, and public health. Her 2013 Ted Talk, “His and Hers Healthcare” encompasses her passion and her drive for improving the health of women worldwide.

From all of us at the Center for the History of Medicine, congratulations Dr. Johnson!

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine and Archives for Women in Medicine are longtime collaborators, and the Center for the History of Medicine is the repository for the Foundation’s Alma Dea Morani Oral History Project. Interviews of past recipients, including Carol Nadelson and Florence Haseltine, are available via Onview.

 

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Elizabeth B. Connell Papers Now Open

By , December 5, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Elizabeth B. Connell papers, 1960-2010 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (bulk) are now open to research.

Elizabeth B. Connell was born in 1925 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her A.B. and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and 1947 and 1951 respectively. During the late 1950s, she worked in general practice in Blue Hill, Maine; Connell later said that this was when she first became acutely aware of the health issues affecting her female patients, particularly contraception and fertility. Connell and her family moved back to Philadelphia from Maine for her further medical training and, in 1960, she moved to New York City to take an obstetrics residency in gynecology.

After completing her residency, Connell received an American Cancer fellowship which allowed her to gain experience in radical cancer surgery. During the early 1960s in New York, she worked to open family planning clinics in Spanish Harlem. Connell held faculty positions at New York Medical College, Columbia University, and Emory University as well as being on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation for five years. She was the first woman to chair a Food and Drug Administration panel in 1973.

Connell held positions on many advisory boards and committees including for Planned Parenthood, the Food and Drug Administration, the New York City Department of Health, and the Human Resources Administration. She was a member of a large number of professional organizations, including the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Public Health Association, the American Fertility Society, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Medical Women’s International Association, the Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of Health.

The collection reflects Connell’s work primarily between the 1960s and the 1990s. Connell worked on multiple levels to promote open access to birth control and adequate reproductive health care for women in the United States and, to a lesser extent, internationally. Materials in the collection reflect Connell’s work with hospitals, private organizations, and government institutions on a variety of women’s health topics, primarily birth control and breast implant safety. Papers include correspondence, clippings, reprints, publications, and manuscripts, transcripts of court proceedings, and subject files on pharmaceuticals and clinical trials of intrauterine devices. The bulk of the collection is made up of subject files and reprints or publications.

Topics include birth control methods, including early testing and release of the birth control pill and development of intrauterine devices, women’s health outside of the United States, and a large amount of material reflecting Connell’s involvement in the legal activity around the safety and use of silicone breast implants. Researchers should note that Howard J. Tatum, Connell’s second husband, developed an early prototype of the intrauterine device form of contraception: the Tatum-T.

The finding aid for the Elizabeth B. Connell papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services.

 

 

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