Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania
The Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) was founded in 1850, was the second medical institution in the world established to train women in medicine and offer them the M.D. degree. The New England Female Medical College had been established two years earlier in 1848. Originally called the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the college changed its name to Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867. The associated Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1861. The school was later renamed as the Medical College of Pennsylvania (MCP) after opening its doors to men in 1970.
The college built a new campus in East Falls in the 1920s, which combined teaching and the clinical care of a hospital in one overall facility. It was the first purpose-built hospital in the nation. In 1993, the college and hospital merged with Hahnemann Medical School. In 2003, the two colleges were absorbed by the Drexel University College of Medicine, the world's first medical school for women and the nation's first college of homeopathy.
Smedley's History of the Underground Railroad cites Dr. Bartholomew Fussell with proposing, in 1846, the idea for a college that would train female doctors. It was a tribute to his departed sister, who Bartholomew felt could have been a doctor if women had been given the opportunity at that time. Her daughter, Graceanna Lewis, was to become one of the first woman scientists in the USA. At his house. The Pines, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, he invited five doctors to carry out his idea. The doctors invited were: Edwin Fussell (Bartholomew's nephew) M.D., Franklin Taylor, M.D., Ellwood Harvey, M.D., Sylvester Birdsall, M.D., and Dr. Ezra Michener. Graceanna was also in attendance. Dr. Fussell would support the college, but had little to do with it after it started in 1850 in Philadelphia.
One doctor, Ellwood Harvey (who attended the 1846 meeting, but would not start teaching at the college until 1852), helped keep the school alive along with Edwin Fussell. Dr. Harvey not only taught a full course load, but took on a second load when another professor backed out. Dr. Harvey also took on patients for his practice, which included Philadelphia abolitionist and UGRR historian, William Still, and his family. It was most likely Still who told him about a slave hiding in Washington DC named Anne Maria Weems. Harvey took her, disguised as male buggy driver, from in front of the White House to Philadelphia and eventually New York City. She eventually made it to Canada. With the $300 reward, from Lewis Tappan, for rescuing Weems, Dr. Harvey bought a papier-mâché dissection manniquin for the college. Ann Preston was one of the first students to graduate from the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania.
Harvey was later sued for libel after a former instructor at the college, Dr. Longshore, was forced out. Longshore then started a rival women's medical college at the Penn Medical University. Longshore, using his previous connections at the Female Medical College, began to raise money for his own college.
Clara Marshall (1847–1931), graduate of the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Dean from 1888 to 1917, considered the founder of the school to have been Fussell. Other students considered Joseph S. Longshore and William J. Mullen to be the primary founders. Most considered these three men, whether official founder or not, to be instrumental in the creation of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania.
The Feminist Movement during the early to mid 19th century contributed support for the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania. The Society of Friends in Philadelphia, a large group of Quakers, were supportive of the women’s rights movements and the development of the Female MCP.
MCP was initially located in the rear of 229 Arch Street, Philadelphia (the address was later changed to 627 Arch Street when Philadelphia renumbered streets in 1858). In July 1861, the board of corporators of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania chose to rent rooms for the College from the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia on North College Avenue.
Deans of the College
The first dean of what was then known as the Female Medical College was a man: Nathaniel R. Mosely, appointed 1850-1856. The second dean was also a man, Edwin B. Fussell, who held the position from 1856 to 1866.
From then on, the Woman's College had a long history of female deans, lasting almost 100 years. The first woman to be a dean of this (or any) medical school was Ann Preston. The following women were deans of the college in the years stated:
- 1866–1872, Ann Preston
- 1872–1874, Emeline Horton Cleveland
- 1874–1886, Rachel Bodley
- 1886/1888–1917, Clara Marshall
- 1917–1940, Martha Tracy (Henry Jump served as interim dean during Tracy's sabbatical.)
- 1940/1943–1943/1946, Margaret Craighill
- 1946–1963, Marion Spencer Fay
No woman was found to replace Marion Fay. After her, the position of dean was held by Glen R. Leymaster from 1964-1970, at which time the institution became known as the Medical College of Pennsylvania.
Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia
In part to provide clinical experience for WMC students, a group of Quaker women, particularly Ann Preston, founded the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1861. In 1929, the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women merged with the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, retaining the latter's name.
Issues in clinical training
The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania faced difficulties in providing clinical training for its students. Almost all medical institutions were confronted with the demand for more clinical practice due to the rise of surgery, physical diagnosis, and clinical specialties. During the 1880s, clinical instruction at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania relied mainly on the demonstration clinics.
In 1887, Anna Broomall, professor of obstetrics for the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, established a maternity outpatient service in a poor area of South Philadelphia for the purpose of student education. By 1895, many students cared for three or four women who were giving birth.
East Falls campus and Drexel University
In the late 1920s the college raised money to build a new campus. Designed by Ritter & Shay, the most successful of the Philadelphia urban architecture firms in the 1920s, the East Falls Campus was the first purpose-built hospital in the nation. The design allowed both teaching and hospital care to take place in one facility, helping provide for more clinical care. Post-WWII housing shortages in the city were a catalyst for development of additions to the East Falls Campus, the first of which was the Ann Preston Building (designed by Thaddeus Longstreth), which provided housing and classrooms for student nurses.
In 1993 the Medical College of Pennsylvania merged with Hahnemann Medical College, retaining its Queen Lane campus. In 2003, the two medical colleges were absorbed as a part of Drexel University College of Medicine, creating new opportunities for the large student body for clinical practice in settings ranging from urban hospitals to small rural practices.
The following is a list of Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania alumni (by century of graduation and in alphabetical order by last name) who are notable for their medical career.
- Caroline Still Anderson, (class of 1878)
- Alice Bennett, (class of 1880), chief physician and first woman superintendent of the women’s department of the State Hospital for the Insane in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
- Elizabeth D. A. Cohen, (class of 1857) first woman licensed to practice medicine in the state of Louisiana.
- Rebecca Cole, (class of 1867) the second African-American female physician in the United States.
- Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson the first female African-American doctor in Alabama.
- Matilda Evans, (class of 1897) the first African-American female physician licensed to practice in South Carolina
- Louise Celia Fleming (class of 1895) the first African-American female to attend and graduate.
- Eliza Ann Grier, (class of 1897) the first African-American female physician licensed to practice in Georgia
- Rosetta Sherwood Hall, (class of 1889) American-born Canadian medical missionary and educator in Korea.
- Susan Hayhurst, (class of 1857) the first woman to receive a pharmacy degree in the United States
- Sabat Islambouli, first licensed female doctor in Syria
- Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson, (class of 1891) the first woman to become a doctor in Alabama.
- Verina M. Harris Morton Jones (class of 1888), the first woman licensed to practice in Mississippi.
- Anandi Gopal Joshi, (class of 1886) first Western-trained female physician to practice medicine in India
- Agnes Kemp (1823–1908), (class of 1879) the first woman to practice medicine in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
- Anna Sarah Kugler (class of 1879) was the first medical missionary of the Evangelical Lutheran General Synod of the United States of North America and served in India for 47 years.
- Clara Marshall (class of 1875), dean of Woman's Medical College from 1888 to 1917
- Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill, (class of 1899) the second Native American woman to earn a medical degree.
- Keiko Okami, one of the earliest licensed female doctors in Japan, the first being Ogino Ginko
- Susan La Flesche Picotte, (class of 1889) the first Native American female physician
- Clara Swain, (class of 1869) the first female medical missionary to India from the United States
- Jennie Kidd Trout, (class of 1875) first female licensed medical doctor in Canada
- Charlotte Whitehead Ross, a Canadian female physician who practiced in Montreal and Manitoba in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- Harriot Kezia Hunt, Honorable MD recipient, women's rights activist, teacher.
- Elizabeth Reifsnyder, (class of 1881) opened first woman's hospital in Shanghai
- Lilian Welsh (class of 1889), physician and educator, advocate for public health and preventative medicine
- Myrtelle Canavan (class of 1905), early neuropathologist who first described a form of leukodystrophy that would eventually be named after her, Canavan's disease.
- Ruth Bleier, (class of 1949) neurophysiologist, and one of the first feminist scholars to explore how gender biases have shaped biology.
- Rita Sapiro Finkler, (class of 1915) Ukrainian-born endocrinologist, gynecologist and pediatrician
- Saniya Habboub, (class of 1931) Lebanese medical doctor.
- Joanne Overleese, general surgeon, as well as one of the few doctors to have played in All-American Girls Professional Baseball League history
- Eva Reich, Austrian-born pediatrician and internationally known lecturer, daughter of controversial psychoanalyst Dr. Wilhelm Reich.
- Patricia Robertson, a NASA astronaut and physician.
- Kazue Togasaki, (class of 1933) one of the earliest women of Japanese ancestry to earn a medical degree in the United States.
- Martha Tracy (class of 1904), dean of Woman's Medical College from 1917 to 1940
- List of defunct medical schools in the United States
- List of female scientists before the 20th century
- Penn Medical University
- Women in medicine
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