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 or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua.


One Response to “Announcing a new exhibit on the history of women at Harvard Medical School”

  1. Cynthia Dillon Payne says:

    My great uncle, James J. Regan, MD was an instructor in opthamology at Harvard Medical School and was chief of opthamalogy at Boston City Hospital (brief bio below).
    His son, my mother’s cousin Charles Regan, followed in his father’s footsteps attending Dartmouth and then graduated HMS. He also taught opthamology at HMS and worked at the Eye and Ear.
    The reason I bring this up is that my mother, Doris Marie (Denehy) Dillon, though her Uncle Jim Regan’s influence, attended Harvard Medical School. I believe it was in the mid to late 30s or maybe early 40s.
    She and my father, Raymond A. Dillon (HMS ’38) met when her uncle Jim gave a party for his BCH staff where my dad was chief resident. I’ve spoken to her, my dad, her cousin, Charlie Regan, and other friends of hers who were at HMS with her. Although she took a full course load, as far as I know, she was not allowed an MD degree, but was just given a certificate of completion. I think another woman (from Thailand? India?) attended after her and was given an MD.
    Unfortunately she was not a woman who kept things so I don’t have her certificate, documents, or any proof she was there. I remember she said she was not allowed to be in any photos.
    Do you have idea how to research her time at the Med School? I don’t think she’s in “official” records since they denied her an M.D. Any other suggestions of resources at HMS? Student newspaper? Casual photos of the labs or classrooms?
    By the way she went on to work at the Eye and Ear specializing in strabismus.
    Thank you for any help you can provide!
    Cynthia Dillon Payne (AB 79), wife of Michael C. Payne (AB 77, MD 80, MPH 81).

    << Assistant in Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary and eventually became Assistant Surgeon.

    In 1934 he was appointed Chief of Ophthalmology at the Boston City Hospital, retiring from this position in 1958. During this time a great growth of the ophthalmic service took place, and such distinguished ophthalmologists as Herman Burian and Josef Igersheimer served under him.

    He became a school physician early in his medical career and from 1923 to 1958 served as ophthalmologist to the public schools of Boston. Dr. Regan was very active as a teacher of ophthalmology. He was an Assistant Professor at Tufts and an instructor at Harvard. For many years he taught a course in refraction at the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology with Dr. Walter Lancaster, his great friend and mentor. The Lancaster-Regan astigmatic dials, a product of the association of these two men, are widely used among American ophthalmologists. Following Dr. Lancaster's death, Dr. Regan became especially interested in the Lancaster course and taught refraction for five years after his own retirement.??

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