Posts tagged: women in medicine

Archivist Attends September Women in Medicine Month Events

By , October 7, 2015

September is Women in Medicine month. The Archives for Women in Medicine celebrated by featuring women leaders in medicine on our Twitter account with the hashtag #WomeninMedicine. Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, also attended Women in Medicine month events in the Longwood community and beyond.

Harvard Medical School’s Joint Committee on the Status of Women (JCSW) celebrated Women in Medicine month by holding a panel of women leaders in medicine on September 17, 2015. Panelists included Nancy Tarbell, Dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs and the C.C. Wang Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School (the finding aid for Dr. Tarbell’s papers is available here), Joan Brugge, Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor of Cell Biology, Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard, and Katrina A. Armstrong, Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of Massachusetts General Hospital. Each shared the stories of their careers and the challenges of being a woman and a leader in medicine, as well as how they’ve tried to strike a balance between work and life. The JCSW facilitated a conversation between the panelists and audience that highlighted the importance of finding mentors and other supporters, and the ability to self-advocate to advance one’s career in academic medicine.

16th Annual Alma Dea Morani, M.D. Renaissance Woman Award Presented by the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine to Mary-Clare King, PhD

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine held its 16th Annual Alma Dea Morani, M.D. Renaissance Woman Award ceremony in New York City on September 24, 2015. The Foundation celebrated Mary-Claire King, PhD, American Cancer Research Professor of Genetics and Medicine (Medical Genetics) at the University of Washington. The Renaissance Woman award recognizes an outstanding woman physician or scientist who has demonstrated excellence and service in her field. Dr. King, who is still working, has had an incredible scientific career that includes discovering that humans and chimpanzees share 99% of the same genetics, discovering the breast cancer gene BRCA1, and creating genetic tests to identify kidnapped grandchildren of the Argentinian Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. At the award ceremony, Dr. King spoke candidly about her scientific career and bias against women in the workplace. The ceremony was also an opportunity to speak with like-minded people about the importance of women in medicine and the history of women in medicine, including former Alma Dei Morani Award winners Carol C. Nadelson and Rita Charon.

The Archives for Women in Medicine and the Foundation have been partners for several years, and supporting the Foundation at its Awards ceremony was an honor. The Center for the History of Medicine is the repository for the Foundation’s oral history collection , and the Foundation sponsors a yearly fellowship at the Countway Library.

Brigham and Women's Hospital Women in Medicine and Science Symposium

Brigham and Women’s Hospital Women in Medicine and Science Symposium

The archivist also attended the 4th annual Brigham and Women’s Hospital Women in Medicine and Science Symposium on September 28, 2015. The symposium celebrated the achievements of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s women faculty and trainees, and featured a keynote shared by two inspirational women leaders in medicine: Paula A. Johnson, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health & Gender Biology, Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Ingrid T. Katz, Assistant Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an associate physician in the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a research scientist at the Center for Global Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Faculty Chair of Harvard Medical School’s Joint Committee on the Status of Women. Four oral presentations, ranging in topics from research in endocrinology to pulmonology and pathology, were given, and a poster session featuring the research of six women was held. The full program and photographs of the symposium are available here.

September’s events highlight the importance and innovation of women leaders in medicine, celebrate the achievements of women in medicine and science, and inspire women to become leaders in medicine and science.  The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, preserves, promotes, and provides access to the professional and personal records of outstanding women leaders, and celebrates women in medicine year round.

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2014-2015 Women in Medicine Fellow: Dr. Rebecca Kluchin

By , July 7, 2014

The Archives for Women in Medicine is pleased to announce our 2014-2015 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow: Rebecca Kluchin, Ph.D.

Rebecca M. Kluchin, 2014-2015 Women in Medicine Fellow

Rebecca M. Kluchin, 2014-2015 Women in Medicine Fellow

Dr. Kluchin is an Associate Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, and studies the history of women’s reproductive health in the United States.  Her first book, Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980 (Rutgers University Press, 2005), won the Francis Richardson Keller-Sierra Award for best monograph published in 2009 from the Western Association of Women’s Historians.  Her current project, Pregnancy and Personhood: The Maternal-Fetal Relationship in America, 1850 to the Present, examines the evolution of the public and private relationship between a woman and her pregnancy and explores the ways in which changing definitions of fetal rights, fetal personhood, maternal responsibility, and abortion have shaped the experiences and cultural understanding of pregnancy for millions of women across race and class.

Kluchin’s research shows that efforts to grant personhood rights to the “unborn” in the United States date back to the 1850s and have not always been embroiled in the politics of abortion. Pregnancy and Personhood considers the extent to which women’s experience with prenatal care, pregnancy, and motherhood has been influenced by maternal-fetal politics and studies how these politics have changed over time and why. During her time at the Countway, Kluchin will make use of numerous collections including the papers of Alan Guttmacher, Arthur T. Hertig, John Rock, Leona Baumgartner, Amalie Kass and Benjamin Osgood and as well as the records of the Boston Lying-In Hospital. Among other things, she will track the evolution of prenatal care and the language physicians used to describe the fetus and their pregnant patients’ relationship to it.  She will also consult the Countway’s collection of obstetrics guides from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as the papers of M. Judah Folkman as they relate to thalidomide.

The Women in Medicine Fellowships are offered in partnership with the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.
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New Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine

By , January 20, 2014
Hayes_photo

New Archivist for Women in Medicine, Carolyn Hayes

The Archives for Women in Medicine begins the new year with a new Project Archivist.  Carolyn Hayes is the third archivist to serve the AWM since the project’s launch in 2005.  Carolyn has been with the Center for the History of Medicine as an acquisitions assistant since the fall of 2011. In addition to her work with new manuscript collections, she has worked with Center staff to plan and prepare for a number of outreach events.

In her first weeks on the job, Carolyn has already surveyed the records of a long-running longitudinal growth study of children, accessioned new collections, and met with potential donors. Her near-term goals include opening the papers of Eva Neer and improving communications with supporters and potential donors… so you will be hearing from her!

Carolyn is a co-editor of the New England Archivists Newsletter and a proud member of the Countway Community Garden team.  She holds an M.S. in Library and Information Science and an M.A. in History from Simmons College in Boston, and a B.Mus. in Oboe Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

 

 

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New online exhibits from the Archives for Women in Medicine

By , December 23, 2013

Two legacy online exhibits, The Stethoscope Sorority and Grete L. Bibring: The Modern Woman, are now available through the Center’s new online collections site, OnView.

The Stethoscope Sorority

Over the years, women have faced, and continue to face, many struggles in the field of medicine. Despite this ongoing adversity, they have emerged as strong leaders and helped revolutionize the profession. The Archives for Women in Medicine (AWM) at the Countway Library was created in 2000 to capture and preserve the untold history of the many women who have helped change the face of medicine in the United States. This exhibition highlights materials from the AWM that illustrate women’s experiences as mentors, pioneering researchers, healers, and strong voices speaking out for their beliefs. Using their own words, the exhibition presents stories from some of the women of the AWM and the people who have helped contribute to their successes.

 

Grete L. Bibring: The Modern Woman

In the 1970’s, Dr. Grete L. Bibring created a seminar for Radcliffe College called ‘The Educated Woman’. A small group of students would gather to discuss the issues surrounding educated women and their lives. The concept of the ‘modern woman’ came to portray the dual roles of family and career that women had one point been forced to choose between. Dr. Bibring was a mentor for the emerging modern woman, understanding the demands and rewards of maintaining both a career and family.

Born in Vienna just before the 20th century, Grete L. Bibring would earn the honor of being the first female full clinical professor at Harvard Medical School in 1961. As a part of the “second generation” of Freudian scholars, her achievements include her appointment as Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital in 1955, professional activities in numerous psychiatric organizations, such as the psychoanalytic societies of Vienna, London, and Boston and psychiatric consultant of the Children’s Bureau in Washington D.C. She was highly influential in integrating psychiatric principles into general patient care. Her passion permeated her other roles working with students, residents, physicians, social workers, and nurses across the globe. Dr. Bibring’s work continued well after retirement with a thought provoking seminar at Radcliffe, publication of multiple articles, and her dedication to patient care. This exhibit celebrates her life and her influence on the generations of medical, psychiatric, and social services professions.

Browse all of the Center’s online exhibits at Onview.

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Inspiring Girls to Pursue Science

By , July 22, 2013

A recent study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that, among college students who start out in a STEM field and later drop out or switch majors, men are more likely to do so because they feel they lack organizational and time management skills, while women are more likely to do so because they lack a “‘self concept’ of themselves as scientists” — women couldn’t picture themselves as scientists.

mea1How can we instill in women and girls the vision of a successful, fulfilling career as a scientist? How can we make women scientists more visible, and make relatable role models more accessible? Here at the Archives for Women in Medicine we are working toward these goals in a variety of ways, acquiring women’s collections, celebrating their creators, and making materials like our Oral History Collection widely accessible. These oral history video interviews were conducted with Harvard Medical School’s earliest women faculty, and include frank and lesson-filled discussions of these luminaries’ lives and careers, their research, how they’ve balanced work and family life, what inspired them to enter the medical field, their relationships with mentors, and the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced as women in science.

The oral histories are freely available online for home or classroom viewing via OnView, our online collections site: http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/collections/show/12

Some of our favorite excerpts:

“I was heavily influenced by my next door neighbor, Dr. Emily Bacon, who was a pediatrician. She actually showed me my first premature baby at that stage in my life,  and it made a lasting impression. [Interviewer: Did Dr. Bacon actively encourage you to pursue medicine?] Oh, I think she did, subtly, by virtue of her enjoying her role so much. She loved it and this enthusiasm of hers was contagious. I don’t think she said ‘You should go to medical school’ but I think I was aware that she was getting an enormous satisfaction out of life and I guess that I thought that might be something that I’d find satisfying, too.”

 Mary Ellen Avery, M.D., on her childhood neighbor and role model, Dr. Emily Bacon

“Oh, it’s a great field because there are a hundred different things you can do within it to fit your personality and what you want to do with life. I always tell [young women], don’t be forced into ‘a woman’s field.’ For instance, a woman will come to me and say, I’ve trained in surgical oncology and now they want me to do breast surgery and I don’t want to do breast surgery, I’ll say, don’t do breast surgery! If you don’t like it, don’t do it… don’t be forced into something that is thought to be a woman’s role. Pick things to do because you really have the hunger and the gut to do it, not because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do.”

 – Patricia Donahoe, M.D., on the advice she would give to young women considering careers in medicine

The oral history collection is also still actively growing; we’ll soon add a series of oral history interviews conducted with winners of the Alma Dea Morani Award from the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine to the collection, which will greatly broaden the national scope of the collection.

How can you help? As a scientist or medical professional, reach out and encourage women who are studying or entering your field. If you know of an outstanding woman in medicine who could serve as an inspiring role model, let us know.  We are always looking for more support and community involvement — find out more about the Archives here.

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Lost and Found, Pt. 2: Linda James’ Post-Harvard Career in Public Health

By , May 15, 2013

Linda James, 1914

Earlier this spring I introduced Linda James—the first woman to enroll and graduate with a Harvard Credential on the same basis as men  (Lost and Found, Pt. 1) . Our discovery of Linda’s path, post-Harvard, has come with its fair share of surprises, beginning with a career in immigrant public health before shifting to a difficult yet rewarding life in agriculture and education in the Midwest.

After receiving her C.P.H. from the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers (now known as the Harvard School of Public Health) in 1917, Linda spent the next four years in various positions in public health administration in Massachusetts and Minnesota. She was a health inspector for Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industry, and a research associate on the health of immigrants in industry for the Carnegie Americanization Study. During this time, Linda attended the Americanization Conference in Washington on May 12-15, 1919, which focused on a congressional bill that outlined a path to Americanization. She also conducted research and prepared materials and statistics on industrial medicine and immigrants for Michael Marks Davis’s publication, Immigrant Health and the Community (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1921).

Linda’s professional life shifted in 1922 when she married William A. Benitt, a young attorney from Goodhue, Minnesota. The couple made the collective decision to leave their urban communities and careers to become farmers. From 1929-1930 they both enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota and, after completing their masters’ degrees, purchased “Apple Acres”—a 200-acre farm in South Washington County, Minnesota. 1930 was a difficult year to begin farming, as it was the start of a decade marked by sagging crop prices and drought. In addition to this hardship, life on Apple Acres during its first decade was very primitive; there was no running water or electricity. Linda and William were also the sole workers on their farm, tending eight hundred apple trees and over one thousand laying hens.

In spite of these hardships, the Benitts were politically active within their community. During the same year of their

William and Linda Benitt with a Chinese guest on their farm (1931). Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

arrival on the farm, the couple joined their neighbors in demanding utilization of federal funds to build electric lines to farms. As a result of their efforts, electricity came to Washington County in 1938.

A year later in 1939, Linda was recruited by the educational staff of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (A.A.A.)—an agency created in 1933 by the New Deal. The A.A.A. originally aimed to increase farm income by controlling production, but eventually shifted to authorizing crop loans and offering crop insurance on wheat threatened by drought. Linda’s role was to educate town women on farming problems and promote community dialog. Although at first reluctant to leave her farm, Linda’s dedication to the political message of the A.A.A. and concern over the increase in tenant farming eventually won her over. For the next four years she traveled statewide to organize town meetings and lead discussions on farming issues, stopping only when the program lost congressional funding in 1943.

Returning to farm life in Washington County did not suppress Linda’s dedication to activism and education. In 1945, she began a social service program for young children focused on creating a sense of personal responsibility for community life in a democracy. Linda also became involved with the Upper Midwest Women’s History Center, a regional teacher-training center that helped educators integrate women’s curriculum into regular history classes. Additionally, both Linda and William were active in local war-related efforts; in addition to participating in local blackouts, the couple volunteered to be civilian airplane spotters. In 1946, Linda received the Virginia Skelley Achievement Award, which honors leadership and work ethics.

In 1958, at the age of 67, Linda and William sold Apple Acres and spent the next four years traveling both internationally (taking a freighter trip around the world, and separate excursions to Europe and the Middle East) as well as coast-to-coast nationally, living in a little house on a truck. In 1961 the couple moved to the Penney Farms Retirement Community in Clay County, Florida. Linda died in February 1983 at the age of 92; William died a year later in 1984.

A page of the University of Minnesota’s Class of 1914 yearbook, sent by UMN’s archivist, included a portrait of a young Linda.  She was described as “Suffragette, rather militant. We’d like to see you mad.” Linda was a strong woman with a passion for education and public service; her early beginnings as the first woman graduate with a certificate from Harvard University eventually led her to a long, fulfilling life and career as an academic, educator, agriculturalist, and activist.

Read Part 1: Lost and Found: the First Woman with a Harvard Credential.

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2013-2014 Women in Medicine Fellow: Dr. Ciara Breathnach

By , April 24, 2013

The Archives for Women in Medicine is pleased to announce our 2013-2014 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow: Ciara Breathnach, Ph.D.

Dr. Ciara Breathnach

Dr. Breathnach is a Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and has published on Irish socio-economic and health histories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Breathnach’s research focuses on how the poor experienced, engaged with and negotiated medical services in Ireland and in North America from 1860-1912. It builds on her wider studies on the family unit and the social history of medicine in Ireland and will help to advance her hypothesis that the rural Irish female was slow to medicalize, not only for socio-economic reasons, but also for reasons of personal agency. Using evidence from the records of the Boston dispensary, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Free Hospital for Women, and other collections, her research aims to show that Irish women continued to present as a problematic group long after the ethnic associations with cholera and typhoid outbreaks of earlier decades had dissipated.

Breathnach’s study examines migratory waves against trends in medical and social modernity processes. Combining pre-existing hypotheses from migration history and history of family, this study argues that because most Irish immigrants came from pre and proto-industrial households, they occupied a ‘transition phase’ of the social development process and were unfamiliar with modern medicine. Displaced by agricultural transition, and changes in marriage and inheritance patterns, Irish female migration came to outnumber male by the 1890s. Even after economic convergence had been reached in terms of real wages the rural Irish female continued to emigrate in significant numbers for economic, social and cultural reasons. These gendered migration trends have been well explored and established by economic and social historians but the history of their medical acculturation has remained largely ignored. By contrast the strain of Irish immigrants on the mental health system has received due consideration. This focused study of records held at the Archives for Women in Medicine at the Countway Library will be weighed against other socio-economic evidence to establish how problematic groups such as the Irish poor affected and shaped medical care in Boston.

The Women in Medicine Fellowships are offered in partnership with the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.
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Lost and Found: the First Woman with a Harvard Credential

By , April 17, 2013

Linda James, circa 1935. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

It is widely recognized that the Graduate School of Education, established in 1920, was the first Harvard graduate school to enroll women. Those initial graduates in 1921, more than thirty women earning Ed.M. degrees, are considered the first female Harvard University graduates. There were, of course, female graduates of Radcliffe College beginning in the 1890s, however they were registered at Radcliffe, not Harvard.

As the Harvard School for Public Health prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, interesting facts in public health history are coming to light. With regard to the enrollment of women, HSPH was a pioneer. In a November 1913 Administrative Board meeting, members voted to admit and credential women with a Certificate in Public Health (C.P.H.) at the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers (now known as the Harvard School of Public Health). Although this was a certificate program as opposed to a degree program, it was in fact the first program to admit and credential women on the same basis as men.

So who was Harvard’s first credentialed woman? In 1917, Linda Frances James was the first woman to graduate from the School for Health Officers. To learn more about her, we consulted a variety of sources including the Harvard University Archives, the 1917/18 HSPH catalog, the Minnesota Historical Society, and a definitive history, Founders: Harvard School of Public Health, wherein author Jean Alonzo Curran also acknowledges James as the “first woman student.”

From these sources we have learned that James was born in 1891 in Minnesota. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1914, and took a position as a science teacher at Monticello High School from 1914-1915 before enrolling in 1915 as a student at the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers.

While enrolled at the School for Health Officers, James also worked as a Medical Social Worker at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1916-17. She completed her C.P.H. in January 1917, and shortly after took a position as the Director of After-Care Division at the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission …after which point, her story becomes a bit cloudy.

We continue to pursue James’ story… more to come!

Read Part 2: Linda James’ Post-Harvard Career in Public Health.

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New online oral history: Malkah Notman, M.D.

By , March 7, 2013

Watch the Malkah Notman oral history »

Malkah T. Notman is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (formerly Beth Israel Hospital), and faculty of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. She has served as a Training and Supervising Analyst and as the Chair of the Education Committee and President of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute and Society. She has also been President of the American College of Psychoanalysts and Councilor-at-Large of the American Psychoanalytic Association as well as a past-president of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. Notman’s research interests focus on adult development, including the development and psychological functioning of women, in particular reproductive-psychological issues and the psychological aspects of new reproductive technologies. She is known for her many publications such as the three volume opus, The Woman Patient, co-edited by longtime collaborator Carol Nadelson, with whom she also edited Physician Sexual Misconduct.

In her oral history Dr. Notman discusses the importance of her relationships with mentors, including leaders such as Grete Bibring as well as peers; navigating her career path; taking risks; handling work-life balance; and her research, including a longitudinal study of the mental health of women who had undergone abortions, among other topics.

The Archives for Women in Medicine has launched a new and improved online portal for oral histories which utilizes the Center’s new digital collections site, OnView. This new portal allows you to watch the videos right in your web browser by simply clicking “play,” rather than having to download the videos to your computer as with our previous system. We hope you’ll explore and enjoy the new online Women in Medicine Oral Histories.

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