Margaret D. Craighill

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Margaret D. Craighill

Margaret Dorothea Craighill was born October 16, 1898 in Southport, North Carolina, the daughter of Colonel William E. and Mrs. Mary (Wortley Montague Byram) Craighill. On May 28, 1943, she became the first woman commissioned officer in the United States Army Medical Corps. Major Craighill served through World War II and after the war worked with the Veterans Administration.

1920 - 1939[edit]

She received her BA and MS degree from the University of Wisconsin, finishing her studies in 1920. Upon graduation, she briefly worked as a physiologist with the Chemical Warfare Department of the United States Army at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. Enrolling in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Craighill graduated in 1924. During the years of 1925 and 1926 she was an Assistant Instructor of Pathology at Yale University. From 1926 to 1928, Craighill served as an assistant resident of Gynecology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

From 1928 to 1937 Craighill served as an assistant surgeon with Dr. J. A. McCreery at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, New York. During this same time period, she also engaged in private practice in obstetrics and gynecology in Greenwich, Connecticut, as an assistant surgeon at Greenwich Hospital.

World War II[edit]

In 1940 Craighill became the Dean of the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMC) in Philadelphia, and served as an assistant gynecologist and obstetrician of the Philadelphia General Hospital. During her tenure as dean, Craighill was responsible for widespread reform throughout the College including curriculum and student-faculty relations. In 1943 Craighill requested a leave of absence from the College to enter the military.

On May 28, 1943, she became the first woman commissioned officer in the United States Army Medical Corps. Major Craighill was assigned as the Women’s Consultant to the Surgeon General of the Army of the United States commanding the Women’s Health and Welfare Unit and liaison duty with the Women's Army Corps (WAC). During her military service, she was responsible for the inspection of the field conditions of all women in the United States Army, as well as establishing the standards for screening applicants into the WAC and for WAC medical care. In 1944-1945, Craighill conducted an eight and half month inspection tour around the world to study field conditions for servicewomen. Her tour included inspections in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). For her distinguished service in World War II, Craighill was awarded the Legion of Merit.


On April 8, 1946, Craighill separated from the United States Army and returned briefly to the WMC in Philadelphia. After a disagreement with the Board of Trustees over the future plans of the College, Craighill resigned. In September 1946 she accepted a surgical position with the Veterans Administration (VA) at Winter Veterans Hospital in Topeka, Kansas. During her tenure, Craighill also served as Chief Consultant, Medical Care of Women Veterans. She was responsible for the oversight of the medical care of women veterans with nine other branch section chiefs stationed around the country. In 1946 Craighill went back to school under the G.I. Bill to study psychiatry at the Menninger Foundation School of Psychiatry in Topeka.

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