In 1870, there were 525 female doctors in the United States (Newcomer, 1959). Among the fraternity women who became physicians were founders of two NPC groups, Rachel Jane “Jennie” Nicol, a founder of Pi Beta Phi, and Eleanor Dorcas Pond Mann, a Delta Delta Delta founder. Nicol, an alumna of Monmouth College, graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1879 and interned in the New England Hospital in Boston. She was studying in Zurich, Switzerland, when she died of meningitis (Donaldson, 1967). Mann, a graduate of Boston University, completed her medical degree at Tufts Medical College, practiced obstetrics, and specialized in the diseases of children. She also served Delta Delta Delta as Vice President from 1888 until 1893 (“Dr. Eleanor Dorcas Pond Mann,” 1925, February; Haller, 1988).
(What follows below are pages 155-163, “Fraternity Women in Medicine,” from my dissertation, Coeducation and the History of Women’s Fraternities 1867-1902. I completed it in 2002 and I’ve had a hard time revisiting it. There is always something that catches my eye and makes me cringe. I had completely forgotten about this section until I searched my hard drive for some more information about a Tri Delta founder. I can’t remember why I wrote this chapter. I apologize for the drollness of it. It reads like the pages that accompany a prescription and the APA style intrudes on the ease of reading. However, these women were not slackers and their determination and steadfastness of purpose impresses and floors me and I thought some of you might enjoy it, especially if some of these women share your bonds. Please note that I limited the dissertation to the seven founding NPC groups – Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delta Gamma, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta and Delta Delta Delta – and ended with the year 1902, so the only members I mentioned were those who were initiated into these seven groups prior to 1902.)
Among the earliest physicians who were also members of women’s fraternities during the 1870s were Carrie B. Carpenter and Maria M. Dean, University of Wisconsin Kappa Kappa Gammas who practiced medicine in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Helena, Montana, respectively (“Eta roster,” 1919). Two University of Kansas Pi Beta Phi* members were homeopathic physicians. Alice Morgan Goss started her medical studies at San Francisco Homeopathic School and later graduated from the Hahnemann Homeopathic College of Chicago. She specialized in the diseases of women and children and was in private practice in San Francisco from 1890 until 1930 (Pomeroy, 1909; “In memoriam,” 1935). Carrie Goss Haskell attended St. Louis Medical College in 1875 and the Hahnemann Homeopathic College of Chicago. She received her medical degree in 1878 and was in private practice in California (Pomeroy, 1909).
Two of the fraternity women who were physicians initiated during the 1870s suffered the same fate as Nicol and died shortly after receiving their medical degree. Laura M. Cole, an Iowa Wesleyan University Pi Beta Phi, earned a medical degree from Iowa State University in 1876 and unfortunately died later that year (Pomeroy, 1909). Mary E. Etter, an Illinois Wesleyan University Kappa Kappa Gamma initiated in 1875, earned a medical degree but died in 1885 (“Epsilon roster,” 1919).
Jenette Hubbard Bolles Alden, a University of Kansas Pi Beta Phi, was one of the first women to study osteopathy. Alden graduated from the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Missouri, in 1894. She was a member of the first class ever organized to teach osteopathy at the American School of Osteopathy and was a professor at the school from 1893 until 1895. She headed the departments of anatomy, gynecology and obstetrics at the Colorado College of Osteopathy from 1897 until 1904. Beginning in 1904, Alden was in private practice with her husband in Denver, Colorado (Pomeroy, 1909).
Cornell University Kappa Alpha Theta member Adeline Eldred Prentiss received her medical degree from the New York Medical College for Women in 1875 and a second medical degree from Cleveland Homeopathic College in 1876. She was a physician in private practice and she also established a charity kindergarten in Ithaca, New York (Bell, 1902).
Laura J. Brown was a school principal before entering the Hahnemann Homeopathic College of Chicago. An Iowa Wesleyan University Pi Beta Phi, Brown earned her medical degree in 1903 and spent a year working in a hospital before opening a private practice in Lincoln, Nebraska (Pomeroy, 1909).
Ella Goff, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter at Allegheny College, earned her medical degree from Boston University in 1891 (Bell, 1902). Eva G. Correll, another member of Kappa Alpha Theta, was a German professor as well as a physician (Bell, 1902).
A member of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Ohio Wesleyan University, Belle Jane Allen, was initiated in 1883. She earned a medical degree from Boston University Medical School in 1915 and was a medical officer at the Health Service Home in Musoorie, India (Howes, 1939).
Phoebe R. Norris earned a degree from Juniata College, taught for three years, and went to Washington to work as a clerk in the United States Treasury Department. She then decided to become a physician. In 1889, while studying at George Washington University, she became a member of the Pi Beta Phi chapter there. Norris graduated from the Medical School at George Washington University in 1891. The only other woman in her medical school class was another charter member of the George Washington University Pi Beta Phi chapter. Norris was in private practice and served on the staff of the Crittenton Home and the Woman’s Clinic (“What some Pi Phis,” 1894; “Some Pi Phi professional women,” 1904).
Katherine Burnett, an 1883 initiate of the St. Lawrence University chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, was in private practice in Clyde, New York (“Beta Beta roster,” 1919).
Three Kappa Alpha Thetas initiated in the early 1880s became physicians. Kate Snyder Burse was initiated as a member of the Indiana University chapter in 1883 (Bell, 1902). Alfreda Bosworth Withington, initiated into the Cornell University chapter in 1881, received her medical degree from the Women’s Medical College of New York in 1887 (Bell, 1902). Bertha Van Hoosen was a member of the University of Michigan Kappa Alpha Theta chapter as well as a member of its Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Van Hoosen’s parents were opposed to her plan to attend medical school. Consequently, she earned the funds to pay for her medical training and earned her medical degree in 1888. In 1892, she opened a medical practice in Chicago (Bell, 1902).
Five members of the St. Lawrence University chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma who were in the chapter together in 1881 became physicians. Isabel A.Church was a physician in Yonkers, New York. Hessie Develan’s medical practice was located in Hollywood, California. Emma Powell Sherman was a physician in Chehalis, Washington. Annette Shaw practiced medicine in Marion, Massachusetts (“Beta Beta roster,” 1919). Lucia Elizabeth Heaton graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1892. She opened a practice in Canton, New York, and in her later years was a medical examiner (Gaines, 1920; Burton-Roth & Whiting-
Elizabeth Hess, an Iowa State University Pi Beta Phi from the class of 1884, received her medical degree from the University of Iowa (Pomeroy, 1909). Sarah Matilda Hobson, an initiate of the Boston University Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter was an Adjunct Professor in Pediatrics in the Chicago Homeopathic and Hahnemann Colleges in Chicago, and a consulting physician to the Chicago Home for the Friendless. In the 1890s, she specialized in general medical practice with a specialty in preventative medicine for children and adolescents (“Prominent members of Kappa Kappa Gamma,” 1924).
Mary Griswold Laughlin, a member of the Knox College chapter of Pi Beta Phi, received her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (Pomeroy, 1909). Frances Storrs, a Cornell University Kappa Alpha Theta member, graduated from the University of Kansas Medical College in 1893. She was a practicing physician and a teacher of Medical Latin at Kansas Medical College (Bell, 1902). Harriet Thayer, a physician in Helena, Montana, was an initiate of the Illinois Wesleyan University chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma (“Epsilon roster,” 1919).
Georgia Smallie Nims, a College of Wooster Kappa Kappa Gamma, practiced medicine in Oskhosh, Wisconsin (“Beta Gamma roster,” 1919). Swarthmore College Pi Beta Phi member Mary L. Montgomery Marsh received her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1895 and was in private practice with her husband in Pennsylvania (Pomeroy, 1909).
Bessie Evans Peery was at member of the Pi Beta Phi University of Iowa chapter. When she entered the Homeopathic Department at Iowa State University, she was the only woman enrolled. She earned her medical degree in 1884. In 1886, she entered the scientific department of the University of Iowa and graduated with a B. S. in 1890. She became a resident physician at the Chicago Baptist Hospital in 1892 (Pomeroy, 1909).
Emily Dunning Barringer, the grandniece of Cornell University benefactor Henry W. Sage, became a member of the Cornell chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. She graduated from the Cornell Medical School and was the first woman to join the staff of one of the New York City hospitals where there was a general medical and surgical practice. After post-graduate study in Vienna, she and her husband, who was also a doctor, started a private practice in New York City (“Kappas known to fame,” 1914). She was a surgeon in France during World War I and an instructor in the New York Polyclinic Medical School
(Burton-Roth & Whiting-Westermann, 1932; “Prominent members,” 1924).
Three Syracuse University fraternity women initiated during the 1890s studied medicine. Louisa Smith, a Pi Beta Phi, earned her medical degree from Syracuse University in 1898 (Pomeroy, 1909). Julia Cummings Carro was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter. In 1897, she earned her medical degree from the University of Buffalo. Carro served as the house physician at the Riverside Hospital in Buffalo, New York (Bell, 1902). Harriet Lloyd Doane, Kappa Kappa Gamma, received her medical degree in 1895 and spent a year working as House Officer in the Worcester Memorial Hospital in Massachusetts. Doane spent an additional two years as an Assistant Physician in the Medfield Insane Hospital (“Kappas known to fame,” 1915).
A Delta Delta Delta from the University of Cincinnati, Estelle Riley Caldwell, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and became a physician (Priddy, 1907; 1932). Elizabeth Mercelis, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, graduated from the Women’s Medical College of New York in 1892 (Bell, 1902). Kate Johnson, a College of Wooster Kappa Alpha Theta, graduated from the Medical College at Ann Arbor, Michigan (Bell, 1902).
Several Pi Beta Phi members initated in the early 1890s became physicians. A member of the Simpson College chapter, Lena Hatfield, received her medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago (Pomeroy, 1909). Anna M. Ross Lapham graduated from Lombard College and earned her medical degree cum laude from the Women’s Medical School at Northwestern University in 1898. She was an attending physician to the Jackson Park Sanitarium for Babies from 1901 to 1909. She also served as an Instructor in Surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the University of Illinois in Chicago (Pomeroy, 1909). Helen Lee, a member of both the George Washington University and University of Michigan chapters earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1905 and practiced in San Jose, California (Pomeroy, 1909). Alice June Lillibridge, from the Bucknell University chapter, received her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Lillibridge had a private practice in Olyphant and Scranton, Pennsylvania (Pomeroy, 1909). Augusta Pettigrew Shute, received her medical degree from George Washington University where she was a member of the chapter (Pomeroy, 1909). Jane Beck Smith, from the Women’s College of Baltimore (Goucher College) chapter,graduated from the Cornell University Medical School in 1901 and was in private practice in New Jersey (Pomeroy, 1909).
Emily Dunning, a Kappa Kappa Gamma, was a physician at Gouverneur Hospital in New York. She was the first woman to be appointed an ambulance surgeon (Walker, 1903). Another Kappa Kappa Gamma, Mary Alice Schively, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She was a neurologist in the Philadelphia Polyclinic (Walker, 1903).
Mabel Austin Southard, from the University of Minnesota Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter, studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Southard spent a year as pathologist. In 1903, she moved to Boston where she was in general practice for three years and served as a pathologist for the New England Hospital. She married a fellow doctor and taught at the collegiate level (“Kappas known to fame,” 1915, May).
An Alpha Phi from the Cornell University chapter, Annie Marie Tremaine, received her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of New York City. Her first place examination score on the New York State Civil Service list led to her appointment as Woman Physician at Craig Colony for Epileptics, where she worked for six years. Her plan was to open a private practice. In 1906, she went to Europe to study in Vienna and London but her health was impaired in London and she was not able to practice medicine again. She died several years later (“Personals,” 1913, January).
Mabel Simis Ulrich, a Cornell University Kappa Kappa Gamma, was another example of a fraternity woman physician who was able to combine her practice of medicine with married life. Ulrich earned her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1901 and married a fellow doctor that same year. They went to Minneapolis where they practiced medicine. The mother of two daughters, she spoke on health subjects and sex problems to factory girls at noonday meetings and started an evening dispensary for these women (Merrill, 1915, December).
University of California at Berkeley Gamma Phi Beta, Veda Redington Volkhardt, was, for many years, on the staff of the University of California infirmary (“Personals,” 1913, March). Georgiana Walter, a Swarthmore College Pi Beta Phi, earned her medical degree at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1902. She was in private practice in Christiana, Pennsylvania (Pomeroy, 1909). Geneva Carpenter Webster, a charter member of the University of Vermont Pi Beta Phi chapter, earned her medical degree from the Massachusetts College of Osteopathy in 1906. She was in private practice in Massachusetts (Pomeroy, 1909). Emilie E. Young-O’Brien, a Kappa Kappa
Gamma, was a women’s physician at the Minnesota State Insane Asylum
Mary M. Wolfe, a Bucknell University Pi Beta Phi, entered the medical department of the University of Michigan in 1896 and received her medical degree in 1899. Wolfe became the became chief physician of the Women’s Department at the State Hospital for the Insane at Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1900 and oversaw 1200 female patients, 140 nurses and three physicians. She resigned her position in October 1909, and opened a private sanitarium for nervous diseases (Pomeroy, 1909).
Fraternity women who were initiated between 1900 and 1902 and who became physicians include Gladys Henry Dick and Gladys Rowena Henry, both University of Nebraska Pi Beta Phis. Dick studied scarlet fever and was the co- discoverer of the Dick Test for scarlet fever and of the toxin and anti-toxin to be used for treatment (Donaldson, 1967). Henry, a Phi Beta Kappa, received her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University (Pomeroy, 1909). Clarissa Tufts Jenks, a member of the George Washington University chapter of Pi Beta Phi, earned her medical degree from the American School of Osteopathy and was in private practice in Washington, D. C. (Pomeroy, 1909). Arvilla M. Lang from the Swarthmore College Pi Beta Phi chapter earned her degree from the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia. She was an Assistant Physician in the New Jersey Training School for Feeble-Minded and Backward Children in Vineland, New Jersey (Pomeroy, 1909). Adalieta Shaw, a Pi Beta Phi from the Boston University chapter, received her medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine in 1908 and had a private practice in Boston (Pomeroy, 1909).
A. Genevieve White Shorkley, a Bucknell University and University of Michigan
Pi Beta Phi, earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan and, with
her husband, was in private practice in Rochester, New York (Pomeroy, 1909).
*I. C. Sorosis became known by its Greek motto, Pi Beta Phi, in 1888. For the purposes of this study, women who were initiated as members of I. C. Sorosis prior to 1888 will be referred to as members of Pi Beta Phi.
From – Coeducation and the History of Women’s Fraternities 1867-1902, by Frances DeSimone Becque, Dissertation, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2002, pp. 155-63. All rights reserved.