Search This Blog

Sunday, March 3, 2019

BITS ABOUT COLORADO'S MEDICAL SOCIETY AND WOMEN PHYSICIANS #history #WomenDoctors

post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines


Photo property of the author
The ‘Colorado Medical Society’ formed in September 1871. Initially the organization was an all-male institution. Prior to the society's formation there had been other attempts at organizing a Medical Society in the Colorado Territory/State. In 1860 there was the ‘Jefferson Medical Society, which ended a year later as the Civil War began. In 1864 the ‘Denver Medical Society’ formed, but like its predecessor it also folded after a year. In 1868 the ‘Colorado Territorial Medical Society’ was formed, but like the others, lasted for approximately a year. In April of 1871 another attempt was made at forming a ‘Denver Medical Society’, and it is still in existence today. In 1872 the ‘Colorado Medical Society’, yet another organization,  affiliated itself with the ‘American Medical Society’. The 'American Medical Society' began in 1847. 

According to Mary deMund in her book “Women Physicians in Colorado”, women were initially were rejected for membership in these Colorado medical organizations. However,  women were not without their supporters within the organization. President W.H. Williams, president from 1876 through 1877, was a former Confederate soldier and graduate of Tulane University. Dr. Williams not only pushed for the State Board of Health to reorganize and pass laws to regulate the practice of medicine, he wanted those laws to include recognizing the ‘female practitioner’. 

Dr. Williams was also a proponent of the idea that just having a diploma saying you were a doctor, or a diploma from a questionable school was not sufficient to practice medicine. He also advocated that women should be allowed to attend medical schools. At the time Dr. Williams ideas were not as far-fetched as some may think. In 1876 the 'American Medical Association' had its first female member, a delegate from Illinois: Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson. 

Pikes Peak in summer
Photo property of the author
While Williams ideas were initially scoffed at, the annual meeting of the 'Colorado Medical Society' in June of 1877, made a motion that women who had attended a regular school of medicine should be allowed to attend and participate in the meetings of the medical society. This resolution was tabled by a vote of ten to four. At this same meeting, it was decided that Dr. Alida Avery, one of the first female physicians in Colorado and who had been endorsed by society member Dr. McBeth, could not be admitted, as she was not a member of a local society. While not a win for Dr. Avery or other female physician, it was the beginning of a crack in the bastion of male doctors. By 1881 the state of Colorado, then just five years old, began licensing physicians. At that time both men and women were licensed equally. That same year Dr. Avery, Dr. Bates and Dr. Root were admitted to the 'Denver Medical Society'. 

By 1887, another of Dr. Williams' ideas came to fruition with the graduation of Dr. Eleanor Lawney from the Denver School of Medicine. Dr. Lawney, after graduation, was on the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado. 

This was just the beginning of the growth of women doctors in the state of Colorado prior to 1900.

Below is a partial list of women physicians who were among those who arrived prior to 1890:

Elnora Anderson, Ellen J Bell, Flora M Betz, Mary Bradner, Henrietta L Buckner, Kate C Bushnell, Stella M Clarke, Clara a Cox, Martha E Cunningham, Emma F Drake, Sarah Edson, Dora Fugard, Ella M Gilchriest, Helen M Hannah, Mary M Hatfield, Charlotte Hock, Julia R Howe, Lizzie E Joy, Addie M Kester, Mary Glover Lowery, Harriet Leonard, Julia E Loomis, Esther B. Holmes, Julia G McNutt, Anna Marsh, Celestia D Messinger, Blanche Movre, Augusta Nelson, Mary Ogden, Kate Bardwell Peterson, Anna L Potts, Marah S Putnam, Lydia Ross, Clara B. Rowe, Sarah E Somerby, Eleanor Van Atta.

For those who would like to read more, here are two books about medicine, and women physicians in Colorado: 

“A Century of Colorado Medicine, 1871-1971.” 
" Women Physicians of Colorado" by Mary De Mund 

Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my Agate Gulch novellas




Doris Gardner-McCraw

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


24 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this, Doris. Your info on women doctors is always so interesting--and very helpful since my heroine in my WIP is a doctor. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are more than welcome. I think it's cool that your heroine is doctor. Best on the book! Doris

      Delete
  2. Great post, Doris. I have a young woman in one of the books I'm working on that wants to be a doctor. Thanks for the info. Loved HONE FOR HIS HEART, by the way,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agnes, That is so cool the young woman wants to be a doctor. It was and is an amazing profession.

      Thank you for the kind words on my story. It means a lot to me. Doris

      Delete
    2. Oops. I should have checked my spelling. I meant HOME not HONE. Time to cut my fingernails.

      Delete
    3. I knew what you meant, and you made me smile. Doris

      Delete
  3. Very interesting, especially in light of Colorado being one of the earliest states to approve Women's Suffrage. Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Ann. I started researching these amazing women about six years ago, and I'm constantly finding information that excites me and keeps me going.

      I appreciate your words. Actually, there were a few of the female physicians who came here to help Colorado with their Women's Suffrage fight. Doris

      Delete
  4. These pioneer female doctors are to be admired for their fortitude in following their dream, especially in the man-dominated medical profession. I look forward to all your articles about Colorado. Do keep them coming, Doris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, it is a passion to find and tell the story of these women. It is my hope that the book on their story and lives will be seen in the next couple of years. Doris

      Delete
  5. Wonderful post. It's heartening to read about these amazing women.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. They inspire me constantly, and I dig into their stories every chance I get. Doris

      Delete
  6. As usual, a really informative post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kristy. I admit to this being a passion of mine. Doris

      Delete
  7. Thank you for including the two reference books. I am in the early research stage of the historical aspects of a story that involves a (fictitious) woman doctor in Colorado. As always, your articles are not only interesting, they are helpful. *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. There are more options for research available, as I'm sure you know. LOL. Doris

      Delete
  8. Actually, I am surprised by the number of female physicians in Colorado. What an enormous effort these women had to put forth just to be able to join the Medical Society. We certainly owe these woman a debt of gratitude for their work and their efforts on behalf of all the women who followed after them.
    As always, a well researched piece, Doris. Fantastic blog.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Sarah, and I didn't list all the women from that timeframe. If I had added the ones up to 1900, the list would have been pretty long.

    I am glad you liked and found the information worthwhile. I do enjoy sharing these stories. Doris

    ReplyDelete
  10. And in the 1960s, the overall acceptance rate for women in US medical schools was still only 3%, or so I was told at the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct, there has been a roller coaster ride in the acceptance of woman as physicians over the years. Doris

      Delete

  11. Whether you need tree care for aesthetic or safety, you can trust our experts to provide professional, trustworthy tree service! Call us for a free estimate.

    ReplyDelete
  12. For someone who is in charge of their company's SEO and is still fairly new to it, this article was great, very informative, and accurate. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This advice is useful for getting thousands of new readers to your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If more people that write articles really concerned themselves with writing great content like you, more readers would be interested in their writings. Thank you for caring about your content.

    ReplyDelete