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The first American woman (Ms. Blackwell was a British citizen) to receive a doctor of medicine degree was Lydia Folger Fowler (1822-1879). She graduated in 1850 from the Rochester Eclectic Medical College and was a relative of Benjamin Franklin. She also holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a professorship in a legally authorized medical college. Furthermore, she was the first woman doctor in the U.S. to give an address (1851) before an organized society (New York State Eclectic Medical Society) of medical men. This address, which was received with applause, probably influenced the NEMA (National Eclectic Medical Association) to adopt a policy of medical coeducation the following year. Fowler taught at Lozier's school as well as Central Medical College during the session of 1851-2. She also taught at Russell Trall's Hygeio- Therapeutic College in the 1860's. Myra King Merrick, cofounder of the Cleveland Homoeopathic College and Hospital for Women (Cleveland, O.), was a student of Fowlers at Rochester Eclectic Medical College, where she graduated in 1852. Dr. Merrick was, for sometime, family physician to the John D. Rockefeller family and delivered John D. Jr. Another homeopathic physician, H.F. Biggar, also tended that famous family and was golfing buddy of the Rockefeller Sr. Nancy T. Clark, was the first American woman to receive a medical degree (1852) from a regular school, Western Reserve College Medical Dept., Cleveland, O., established for men. Dr. Clark was the older sister of I.T. Talbot! Dr. Talbot was a strong supporter of medical coeducation. Dr. Talbot graduated both from Harvard University Medical School and the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania. He was a homeopathic stalwart helping to found the Massachusetts Homoeopathic Hospital (1870) and the homeopathic, Boston University School of Medicine in 1873. He served as Dean there until his death in 1899.
2The second homeopathic medical school for women was established in 1868 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland Homoeopathic College and Hospital for Women was opened by homeopathic physician Myra King Merrick and her associates. It provided quality instruction for two years before it merged with the Cleveland Homoeopathic Hospital College when that institution decided to uphold its co-educational policy. What probably gave impetus to the founding of this institution was the way women and Susan Ann Edson, in particular, was treated when she attended the supposedly co-educational, Cleveland Homoeopathic Medical College. Edson though initially refused admission, was permitted to attend lectures because she had won an academic scholarship donated by a college benefactor. Though she successfully finished her first year, the faculty, posing threats, told her she could not return for the second year. She returned nonetheless and finished her second year and graduated! A valiant soul indeed.
3The Homoeopathic Medical College of the State of New York (NYC) was founded on April 12, 1860. Over the years it's name changed five times (1869, 1887, 1908, 1936, 1938). On April 14, 1908 it became the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital. On May 11, 1936 it became the New York Medical College and Flower Hospital, and in 1938, the New York Medical College, Flower and 5th Avenue Hospitals. 4This institution was connected with the New York Dispensary and Hospital for Women and Children and eventually became the medical department of Cornell University.
5Though the college graduated many women doctors of distinction it also can boast the following: Emily Jennings Stowe (1831-1903, alumnus 1867) was the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada. Marie Augustra Generoso Estrela (alumnus 1881) was the first South American woman physician.
6Known as the Panic of 1873, this financial crisis, affected the whole of America. It originated with the Jay Cooke and Co. a securities firm which marketed bonds for the U.S. government. Bonds had only recently become a reliable source for raising capital and when this company went bankrupt (9/18/1873) financing the Northern Pacific Railroad through its issuance of bonds, the faith in the very foundations of credit was severely compromised. Actually the circumstances and reasons for this panic are many fold, some of them foreign, some agricultural and some of them rooted in unsound domestic monetary policy. Stocks fell 20 or 30 points in a single day and on Sept. 19, 1873 nineteen reputable New York corporations failed. The stock exchange became a sellers market at ruinous prices and with no buyers. The market took control somewhat by closing for eight days. This financial panic, which might very well be called a depression today affected all segments of the economy. Construction and real estate was certainly one of those segments and one with which the hospital's Board of Trustees had to deal with.
7It was not uncommon for women to take their degrees later in life. For example, Mercy Jackson, a homeopathic practitioner and mother of eleven, never attended a medical school yet earned a diploma from Gregory's school of midwifery in 1850 when she was 57. Sarah Amelia Barnet (alumnus, 1865) earned her degree when she was 51. She was a woman of wealth and primarily took her degree because she wanted to be of use to the poor rather than to obtain profit. Another homeopath, Lucy Brown, was 41 before she commenced practice after graduating, in 1882, from Cleveland Homoeopathic Medical College. Many women were talented in other ways. Ellen Getchell, a 1884 Boston University graduate, composed light operas before she entered medical school. Dressmaker, Grace Roberts, after being cured of typhoid by Winslow, apprenticed under her. She later returned to D.C. as Doctor Roberts, a proud graduate of the homeopathic medical department of the University of Michigan, 1878.
8Sectarian refers to a 'sect,' in this case a sect within medicine. During the 19th century there were many sects, homeopathy, osteopathy, hydrotherapy, eclecticism, Thomsonianism, Physio-medicalism, etc., which generally had theories and treatments in contradistinction to regular medicine. For example, homeopathy was often referred to as the 'New School' because it's body of knowledge vigorously separated itself from the previous, dominant medical thought, which then became known as 'Old School' or the 'regulars'. A sect as, defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a group of people forming a distinct unit within a larger group by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice." 9Suffrage groups across the country were dedicated to obtaining for women the right to vote. This right came in August of 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by the United States Legislature.
Until its own hospital was built, Lozier's students did clinical studies at Bellevue Hospital College. The doors opened with difficulty, yet once open, the women were subjected to persistent insults from the students of that institution. The professor could have controlled the obnoxious male students but chose not to. Dr. Lozier led a public indignation meeting at Cooper Institute to denounce this stifling conduct. Horace Greeley and Henry Ward Beecher spoke, as did other prominent citizens. The immediate result was an outpouring of sympathetic and positive public support. The mayor sent a marshall to police Bellevue clinics in order to protect the women students' rights.
10Many prominent nineteenth century citizens employed homeopathic doctors. Secretary of State under Lincoln, William Seward, John D. Rockefeller, as well as noted authors Nathaniel Hawthorne, Longfellow, Elizabeth Phelps and Louisa May Alcott all made use of homeopathic physicians. Dr. C. Wesselhoeft was Ms. Alcott's physician in her youth and later she was attended by Dr. Rhoda Lawrence, a Boston University graduate (~1866). Ms. Alcott was ill most of her life and sought out many doctors. Additionally, she saw magnetic healers and employed fads of the day such as Peck Miller's friction gloves and Milbrey Green's botanic milk-cure. She took up Christian Science, the doctrine of Mary Baker Eddy, but in the end it can be said that she consistently employed homeopathy her whole life. James Bushrod in his address as President of the AIH in 1883 commented: "It is accurately safe to say that in the aggregate at the lowest calculation fully one-third of the taxable property is held by the people who employ homeopathic treatment". -Mitchell, p. 20.
By the way, many gravitated to homeopathy because '...of its implication for social as well as medical reform.' It can be said that regular physicians were, in general, of conservative mind, however, homeopaths often espoused more liberal viewpoints and tended to support reformatory causes.
11Dr. Abraham Witton Lozier, Jr., an instructor and integral part of the college, was Clemence's son. He had two wives, Charlotte Irene Lozier (alumnus 1869) and Jennie de la Montaigne-Lozier. Charlotte, who became a lecturer in physiology and hygiene at her alma mater upon graduation, was his first wife and died at the young age of 25 (3-15-1844´ 1-3-1870). They were married just four years. Jennie was the daughter of John de la Montaigne, M.D. , a professor of anatomy during the first session of the New York Homeopathic Medical College, in 1860. Jennie, too, upon graduation became a lecturer on physiology. Jessica Lozier Payne was granddaughter of Clemence, and remembers her with these remarks: "I was eighteen years old when my grandmother, Dr. Clemence S. Lozier, died. My strongest recollection of her is her gracious personality and gentle beauty, with soft curls framing her face. Although forceful in character, she gained results by persuasion and example. Many and difficult were her problems, but sustained and inspired by her active faith, she solved them, and won a prominent place in the medical profession, consulting with Dr. Jacoby, Dr. Janeway and Dr. Helmuth. She was a warm friend of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton." -Brant, p. 44. 12Quite a few women ably and unselfishly served the college, in many cases, for twenty or more years. Some of them were, Angelina Newman, Emma Keep Schley, Alice B. Campbell, M.D. , Amelia Wright, M.D. , Cordelia Williams, M.D. , Lucius E. Wilson, Mary Knox Robinson, and H.L. Bender. Another who gave freely of her talents was Ellen Louise Demorest who served on the board of trustees for sixteen years, fourteen of those as treasurer. I do not want to dismiss the male gender as men were essential to the success of the school as well. Some of the faculty which ably inspired the students can be counted among the greats of homeopathy: TF Allen, Carroll Dunham, WT Okie, John Ellis, EM Kellogg, HC Houghton, WT Helmuth, Wm. Guernsey, JT O'Connor, Bushrod W. James, WH King, and WH Vanderburg, to name a few.
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I would like to thank doctoral candidate Anne T. Kirschmann and Pat Sullivan (Maricopa County Medical Society Library) for their assistance in answering my queries.
Jay Yasgur is a pharmacist, author and member of the HPCUS (Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States). He has written homeopathic articles for pharmacy journals, homeopathic publications, and his popular book, A Dictionary of Homeopathic Medical Terminology, 3rd Ed. is an essential reference work. This article is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Homeopathic Visions II: The Rich Homeopathic Literature with a Cumulative Index to the Homoeopathic Physician. He may be contacted at Van Hoy Publishers, PO Box 1001, Tempe, AZ 85280.