Helen Walker McAndrew

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Helen Walker McAndrew
Dr. Helen Walker McAndrew.jpg
Helen Walker

(1825-02-06)February 6, 1825
DiedOctober 26, 1906(1906-10-26) (aged 81)
Alma materTrall Institute
Spouse(s)William McAndrew

Helen Walker McAndrew (6 February 1825, Kirkintilloch, Scotland – 26 October 1906, Ypsilanti, Michigan)[1] was Washtenaw County's first documented female physician.


Helen Walker was born in Kirkintilloch, Scotland to Thomas Walker and Margaret Boyd. In 1849 she married William McAndrew in Glasgow. The couple emigrated shortly after and arrived in Ypsilanti, Michigan, by way of New York.[2]

Medical career[edit]

In Ypsilanti, Helen practiced as a self-trained nurse. When her son was still an infant, she decided to pursue medicine. No medical school west of New York would admit McAndrew, so she traveled back east to attend the Trall Institute (New York Hydropathic and Physiological School), where she received her M.D. in 1855.[3] When she returned to Ypsilanti she was ostracized by the public she had previously nursed. She turned to practicing medicine for the marginalized poor and African Americans in her community. She was not accepted as a doctor until after she saved the life of local State Senator Samuel Post's long-suffering wife; after distinguished physicians from Ann Arbor could not help her. As a proponent of the water cure, she subsequently established a private practice with a sanatorium in her home and mineral baths in the nearby Huron River.


McAndrew was a leader of the push to admit women into the department of medicine at the University of Michigan, in which she succeeded in 1870. She, along with her husband, participated in the Underground Railroad, temperance societies and the suffrage movement in Washtenaw County. She worked with several prominent leaders on the suffrage movement including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.


In 1931, McAndrew was posthumously named Ypsilanti's "Most Distinguished Business and Professional Woman".[4][5]


  1. ^ Dr Helen Walker McAndrew at findagrave.com
  2. ^ William McAndrew Jr., Helen Walker McAndrew, 1826-1906, Ypsilanti, Michigan, 1931
  3. ^ McAndrew, William (1931). "The Remarkable McAndrews". Ypsi Gleanings. Summer 2004: 8–14.
  4. ^ "Helen Walker McAndrew" (PDF). Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
  5. ^ "Helen Walker McAndrew". Michigan Women Forward. Retrieved 2020-10-15.