Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Woman's Medical College in Baltimore

By Emily Emerson Lantz
Originally printed in the Evening Sun, May 13, 1918

Visitors to Baltimore from the North are wont to make smiling reference to what they term the “leisurely Southern atmosphere” of this city. Chased by motor vehicle, bewildered by staggered skip-stops of trolley cars, and encouraged to “step lively” by irate conductors, Baltimoreans themselves are rather laboring under the impression that they are “going some”, not to say being rushed to death on a cyclonic whirlwind of haste.

But admitting a certain tranquility of character inherited from placid Maryland ancestors, a certain outward seeming of deliberate movement on the part of citizens, Baltimore, like the tortoise in Aesop’s fable, has always had a way of getting there, and what is more, of reaching the goal somewhat ahead of the other competitors.

Perhaps it is because Baltimore, as a community, is inclined to give courteous and sympathetic hearing to propositions, and to listen to a cause is often to espouse it.

Take for example the matter of affording medical instruction to women! Thirty-six years ago, when most medical colleges were firmly opposed to admitting women students to their clinics, Baltimore was establishing a first-class medical college for the instruction of women. If local medical schools refused to open their doors to women students, well and good; that was their privilege; but –- then establish a medical college for women.
It was in line with the old idea cherished by Southern men that what a woman wants, that she must be given, and that intellectually woman is the equal of man.

And so, the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore came into being. The Women did not have to found it; two well-known physicians, Dr. Randolph Winslow and Dr. Thomas A. Ashby, were its originators and promoters.

It seems these two medical men were one day standing upon a street corner discussing matters pertaining to their profession, when Dr. Winslow said, “Let us start a medical school for women.” His colleague expressed surprise, but not disapproval at the suggestion, and while they were talking, a third member of the profession, Dr. B.B. Browne, joined the group and became interested in the project.

A fourth physician, Dr. Eugene F. Cordell, was consulted, with the result that in 1882, the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore was established with these four broad-minded medical men as founders and instructors.

The charter was obtained February 24, 1882, additional incorporators being Drs. William D. Booker, Herbert Harlan and Robert B. Morrison. The college opened in 1882, those contributing to its first course of lectures being Drs. Winslow, Browne, Ashby, Cordell, Booker, John S. Lynch, Richard H. Thomas and John G. Jay.

It was the ambition of the founders to provide a medical college of high standard, and to this end, they imposed a preliminary examination upon all applicants for admission as students who could not show adequate evidence by certificate or diploma of satisfactory attainment. This was a distinct innovation.

Also, the school began with a session of seven months, and there was a graded course and written examinations at the close of the year. A general hospital and dispensary were founded in connection with the college, and laboratory work was early introduced as a prominent feature.

Microscopes were imported and competent instructors were appointed to teach their use. Careful attention was paid to hygiene, pharmacy and medical jurisprudence. In 1884, the college adopted a three-year course of study, and in 1885, with the University of Maryland and the College of Physicians, its trustees adopted a four-year course of study, although the American Medical College Association did not make that step mandatory until a year later. Also, shortly after, the term was lengthened to eight months.

In 1897, a thoroughly equipped bacteriological laboratory was established for the practical study of a then-new and growing science and instruction was introduced in orthopedica, psychiatry and embryology. Every endeavor was made to give thorough training in laboratories and clinics and, to honor the college, it is said that no women graduated by the Woman’s Medical College ever failed on a State medical examination.

For clinics, students had the college hospital, known as the Hospital of the Good Samaritan, the college maternité, while other local hospitals were available through the connection of members of the faculty with them. Always, the school had the advantage of find instructors, such names as Brush, Murdock, Woods, Harlan, Preston, Mitchell, Hynson, Trimble, Lord, Gilchirst, Claribel Cone, Flora Pollack, Taylor, Buckler, Hunner and others being found in old catalogues.

Dr. John R. Abercrombie was dean of the faculty when the college graduated its final class after 28 years of existence, and at that time, Dr. Guy L. Hunner, President of the college, said it had graduated 116 women, 30 of whom had married, most of them marrying physicians, and 90% were in active practice.

Other members of the faculty whose names are well-known in the Baltimore area were Drs. H. Warren Buckler; J.H. Mason Knox, Jr.; Maurice Lazenby; Henry Lee Smith; Charles W. Larned; S. Griffith Davis; John Staige Davis; Charles H. Riley; George A. Fleming; Charles M. Franklin; W. Milton Lewis; R. Tunstall Taylor; H.C. Davis; H.H. Hazen; Mary A. Waters; Mary N. Browne; Mary P. Voeglein; Bertha Berger; Henrietta M. Thomas; Mary Cook Willis, and Amanda T. Norris.

The closing of the Woman’s Medical College in 1910 was chiefly due to the fact that it was insufficiently endowed to meet the requirements of the American Medical Association, for whose existence it was partly responsible. By the joint action of six medical colleges – The University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Baltimore Medical College, Baltimore University and the Woman’s Medical College – the American Medical Association was organized, and one of the requirements was that during their first two years students should be instructed only by paid professors. This the Woman’s Medical College could not afford, nor could it afford the expense of the increasingly elaborate laboratory apparatus essential to maintain the high and progressive standard of work in which its faculty took deserved pride.

Also, the imperative need of an exclusively feminine medical college was decreasing. Because of the endowment of Miss Mary Garrett, Johns Hopkins Medical School opened its doors to women. The Atlantic College (homeopathic, but no longer existent) also received women as students. Today [1918] the University of Maryland Medical School admits men ad women alike to its educational opportunities.

But in the lives and work of its graduates, the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore lives on. They came to the college from Russia, from Korea, from Puerto Rico, very many of them from New York State, and all over the world they are scattered – intelligent, progressive, well-trained, well-equipped women, lending their skilled hands and efficient mentality to the world’s work.

They are the women, who by their pioneer spirit, their initiative in entering a profession for which they have proved their eminent fitness, have made the hard road of medical life easier to women coming after them. Collectively and individually, they have been an honor to their alma mater.

The first graduate of the college was Dr. Mary Rogers Owens, who went to Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Emily White is a leading surgeon in India. Dr. Annie Houston-Patterson became a medical missionary to China and died there. Dr. Esther Pak, a Korean student, returned to her native country to follow her profession. Two daughters of the West Indies, Senoritas Elisa Rivera and Anita Janer, of the island of Puerto Rico, received their medical training at the Women’s Medical College, and returned to their tropical home to become the first women physicians the island has known. They are still practicing their profession in Puerto Rico.

The personnel of the graduating class of 1910, the last to received diplomas from the college, indicates how far the fame of this modest Baltimore medical school has spread. The graduates were:
          Eugenia Cohen                        Baku, The Caucasus, Asiatic Russia
          Rose Cecelia Faughmen            Newark, New Jersey
          Florence C. Fuller                       Rolfe, Iowa
          Monserrato Palmira Gatell       Puerto Rico
          Elizabeth A. Keay                       Maine
          Olga Valeria Pruitt                     Anderson, South Carolina

Dr. Gatell, the Puerto Rican, was awarded the faculty prize of a gold medal for the highest scholarship average during her four years of study. Dr. Fuller was awarded the honor of an appointment as resident physician in the West Philadelphia Hospital for Women. Drs. Pruitt and Faughman carried off the honor of becoming interns at the Woman’s Medical College of Philadelphia.

Dr. Charlotte Murdock-Young, daughter of the eminent Baltimore oculist, engaged for a time in parish work in London, and now has a medical mission in China. Dr. Henrietta M. Thomas has been working in England with the Belgian refugees. Dr. Bertha Berger is in full charge of the women’s department of the Virginia State Asylum for the Insane at Staunton. 

Drs. Mary P. Voeglein and Mary A. Waters hold city positions under the Board of the Police Commissioners for medical examining. Dr. Mary Cook Willis is associated with the city’s charities in official medical capacity. Dr. Anna Abercrombie is in charge of the Child Labor Bureau for the city. Dr. Sue Radcliffe is a prominent physician in Yonkers, NY and treasurer of the War Service Committee for the Medical Women’s National Association.

Dr. Fannie E. Hoopes, physician and dentist, is a graduate of both the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore, and the Pennsylvania Dental College. She was the first woman to matriculate in the dental department of Harvard University, where she took a post-graduate course. One of the most successful professional women of Baltimore, she has yet found time for club and social life and made a leisurely trip around the world just before Germany declared war. Because of the war, the ocean liner upon which she sailed was withdrawn from regular service at the conclusion of the voyage.

Dr. Flora Pollack, general practitioner, and Dr. Claribel Cone, pathologist, are both graduates of the Woman’s Medical College and later, both conducted clinics there. Also, both were, for a time, associated with Blockley Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Pollack, after service at Blockley, became the assistant in the genito-urinary department of the dispensary of Johns Hopkins Hospital. She also studied abroad for a short time, and has done valuable municipal work in relation to the moral protection of children. At present, in addition to professional duties, she is patriotically doing her but by lectures to young girls designed to teach them to honor their country and the high cause which American men are fighting by maintaining the highest moral ideals for their own sex.

Dr. Claribel Cone is a brilliant women who was a trustee of the Woman’s Medical College and also occupied the chair of pathology. She took a post-graduate course at Johns Hopkins, where she devoted herself to scientific investigation. She has continued laboratory work in foreign countries, and spent some years under pathologists Wiegert and Albrecht at the Senckenberg Institute in Frankfort, Germany. She has visited laboratories of Japan and being abroad when was began in Europe, has continued on the Continent. Dr. Cone is a scientist who is interested in music, painting and sculpture; a writer of distinction; a woman endowed with social graces and possessed of a peculiarly lovable personality.

Certainly, the fine work of its staff and graduates more than justifies the brilliant, if brief existence of the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore in our midst. It was given the city when the city had need of it and the same wisdom that established and developed the school realized when the use for a medical school exclusively designed for women students had passed.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Our Main Stairs

I was recently talking to someone about opening our skylight a few years ago. We were talking about the staircase, and how unusual it is, and how the stairs work with the skylight. 

The stairs are grey marble, which was probably locally quarried, perhaps in one of Baltimore County's well-known quarries. I have the builder's specs somewhere, and the actual marble is specified in there. I know the outside stonework is. 
We are fortunate to have a copy of the original blueprints, and on them, you can see the staircase clearly, and the genius of the architects, Ellicott & Emmart. 
On the ground floor, with the center hallway with its tesserae marble floor and beautiful wood trimwork, the staircase is wide and sweeping. 
As you rise up through the floors, the stairs narrow and the opening between the sides widens. This effectively funnels the light down through the staircase so that each set of stairs is well-lit. When you get to the set leading from the ground floor to the basement, there is no space between them. Once we re-opened the skylight, the true intent of the architects became apparent.
Each set of stairs is actually three sets, intersected with two landings, as you can see in the image above. From the basement to the third floor, the stairs are Calacatta marble in grey and white pattern. The landings are one-inch by one-inch marble tessarae tiles, surrounded by black marble. 

From the basement, to the top of the fourth floor, the railings have a classically elegant ironwork in an oval and ball pattern. You can see it behind another hunk of marble!
When I walk down from the third floor to the basement kitchen, I always count the steps, and there are 78 of them. I think that there are probably another 20 steps up to the top floor. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

John Whitridge, MD

We are in the process of conducting a survey of our art collection with the intention of having it re-valued for insurance purposes. We do this every so often, but the years tend to slip by between valuations. 

In my quest to make sure that everything is included in this round, I have been poking in vacant rooms, storage spaces and other places in our vast buildings which are not frequented more than once every few years. Of course, this is the perfect time to do this hunting, since 95% of our offices are not being used.

I've learned to shift boxes and look into closets to check them out. As I searched a storage room, I moved a media trolley, only to see someone staring back at me from the corner. After my heart stopped pounding, I realized it was another marble bust!
I tried to shift him to see if there was any identifying information, but couldn't even budge him an inch. A few days later, we loaded him on a cart and brought him up to my office. He was absolutely filthy!
I ran a Magic Eraser over him a few times, and you can see the result above! Although some of my museum friends freak out about this, I am taking the advice of another museum conservator and being gentle with the whole process. I even brought in Q-tips to clean out his ears. 

Once I cleaned him up a bit, the hunt was on to find out who he was. He was another Rinehart bust, so that narrowed the field greatly. He was sculpted in Rome in 1874.
Armed with those details, I checked the 1948 catalogue raisonn√© to cross reference the information and see if I could find out who he was.  

Sadly, there isn't too much information on Dr. Whitridge. He was important enough to have his picture in the Library's 100th Anniversary book, but scanning it, there's really no mention of him. 

And he is mentioned in the Annals a few times, mostly as a committee member, and with a very brief biography. 
In 1874, there was an article in the Baltimore Sun talking about the arrival of two busts by Rinehart at the marble salesrooms of Mr. Hugh Sisson, located in the Rinehart Building at 140 West Baltimore Street. 
The bust is really quite handsome, and after it was cleaned up (and the penciled in eyeballs removed!), it turned out to be a lovely piece, in a wonderful luminescent white marble. 
The other piece I found in the Sun was a brief mention of Dr. Whitridge's death and burial in Rhode Island. There is a reference to what was written about him earlier, but I can find no other article. 

Just another little mystery to try and research and unravel!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Dino Zoom!

Please Join MedChi for a Virtual Tour of Fossil Hall at the Smithsonian on
Wednesday, July 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Which living animal is the closest descendant to dinosaurs?
Do humans share genetic makeup with a macaque monkey?
How about a banana?

Why is the Coronavirus not considered a lifeform?   
The answers to these questions and more will be revealed as we take a physician-led virtual tour of the Fossil Hall at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, July 15 at 4:30 p.m. Travel back in time from the comfort of your own home through a virtual guided tour of the Fossil Hall and trace the early origins of life, examine patterns of evolution, dig through the age of dinosaurs and our ancient, and not-so-ancient, ancestors.
Your physician tour guide will be Dr. Stephen Rockower (@DrBonesMd), Bethesda-based Orthopaedic Surgeon, Past President of MedChi, and official docent at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Please join us for this entertaining, insightful discovery of the Fossil Hall, without the traffic, crowds or parking. This Zoom webinar is open to physicians and their families (children 10+ years old).
RSVP here. Upon receiving your response, we will send you an email with the Zoom link and password. The tour is limited to the first 100 participants. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

It's a Bust

We have thousands of square feet of space here at MedChi HQ, and there are nooks and crannies everywhere, some of which I still have not visited. Too scary.

Every so often, someone goes exploring and finds something, and it's usually finders, keepers. Or at least keeping the find in your office. I have my own find hanging on my wall.
This bad boy Edward Harris, who, as far as we can tell, had nothing at all to do with medicine. But he looks like he'd be a lot of trouble fun.

Cathy, MedChi's Chief of Staff, found a bust of a man in one of the storage rooms, and had it taken to her office. He weighs about 100 lbs, and was pretty filthy. She cleaned him up a bit and put him on her wide windowsill. Fast forward to now, and our offices being painted during this quiet time. We had to move the bust, and so I decided it was the perfect time to clean him.
After hoicking him onto a cart, I brought him upstairs to my office and secured him, using a box of brochures to stabilize his base. In the image below, I've cleaned the back of his cloak, but haven't started on his hair. You can really see the difference a good scrub makes!
I did some research on how to clean marble and assembled the components I would need, including warm soapy water, soft cloths and Magic Erasers

Four jugs of filthy water later, he began to regain his old good looks. But there were still the creases and folds in his cloak to take care of, so I got out the vacuum cleaner and got rid of all of the debris that had collected there. 
And then discovered that Magic Eraser comes in sheets, which I would use to get the dirt off the marble using chopsticks, the bowl of a plastic spoon and a mechanical pencil (with no lead) to get into the crevices.
And heeding my mother's admonitions, I remembered to clean behind his ears and the back of his neck.
Cleaning was actually the easy part. The harder part was trying to figure out who he actually was.
The bust was signed by W.H. Rinehartwho provided the endowment for the Rinehart School of Sculpture at MICA, our neighbor to the north. It was sculpted in Rome in 1868, as evidenced by the carvings on the base.
So armed with that information, and using the hive-mind that is Facebook, I soon found that the subject was Thomas Hepburn Buckler, whose portrait is in our collection.
You can see similarities, especially around the hairline. The sculpture was done in 1868 when Buckler was 56, and the portrait was painted in 1879, when he was 67. 
Additionally, the sculpture is listed as being in the collection of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty in an entry in a 1958 catalogue of Rinehart's works. 
That entry pulled everything together and helped us verify the provenance of the bust. It notes that the bust was formerly in the collection (ex-coll) of Thomas H. Buckler, MD, and then in the collection of perhaps, his son, William H. Buckler. And then it moved to the collection of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland... where it still resides. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Marcia in a Mask

As you may know, Marcia Noyes worked for MedChi for 50 years, from 1896 when she arrived as the librarian hired by Dr. William Osler, until her retirement and death shortly thereafter in 1946. 
By the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, she had been here for more than 20 years and was ensconced in the offices on Cathedral Street. With all of the physicians who surrounded her, I know that they cared greatly about her health. 

Of course, we care about your health, and hope that you're wearing your mask when it's appropriate.