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Austin, Harriet N. (1825–1891), hydropathic physician and health and dress reformer, was born in Connecticut but raised in Moravia, New York. Little is known about her parentage or early life. At age twenty-six she enrolled in the first class of the coeducational American Hydropathic Institute operated by ...

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Blackwell, Elizabeth (03 February 1821–31 May 1910), physician, reformer, and medical educator, was born in Bristol, England, daughter of Samuel Blackwell, a prosperous sugar refiner, and Hannah Lane. Her father’s interest in abolitionism and in “perfectionist reform,” the belief that through education and spiritual regeneration human beings could achieve a just society on earth, coupled with a series of financial reversals, prompted a move to the United States in 1832 when Elizabeth was eleven....

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Buckel, C. Annette (25 August 1833–17 August 1912), physician, Civil War nurse, and mental health activist, was born Cloe Annette Buckel in Warsaw, New York, the daughter of Thomas Buckel and his wife (given name unknown), whose surname was Bartlett. Both parents died when Buckel, an only child, was three months old. Until the age of four she lived with her grandparents, and after they died she lived with two young aunts, neither of whom exhibited much warmth toward her. By age four Buckel had learned to read and write. Quickly outgrowing the local district school, she moved on to a more advanced one in a neighboring town. At age fourteen she started teaching school, boarding with her students’ parents, both in New York State and in Canada. While a youth she decided to become a physician. Financially unable to immediately begin formal medical school, she worked in a burnishing factory in Connecticut, living with her employer’s family, and studied Latin as she worked. By living simply and borrowing on a life insurance policy she had purchased, Buckel was able to enter the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1856. She later demonstrated the high regard she felt for the school by leaving it a bequest in her will....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Daniel, Annie Sturges (21 September 1858–10 August 1944), physician and public health reformer, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of John M. Daniel, a coal and wood merchant, and Marinda Sturges. Both of her parents died while Annie was still a young child, and she was subsequently sent to Monticello, New York, to live with relatives. Curiosity about biology and anatomy led her to enroll in the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary, where she specialized in obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics. After receiving her M.D. in 1879, she worked as a pharmacist at the infirmary for a year before serving her internship. In 1881 Daniel was placed as the physician in charge of the Out-Practice Department, also known as the Tenement House Service, of the New York Infirmary. Assigned to this department by Dr. ...

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Gleason, Rachel Brooks (27 November 1820–17 March 1905), sectarian physician and health reformer, was born in Winhall, Vermont; her parents’ names and occupations are unknown. She attended local schools, including Townsend Academy. In 1844, following a brief teaching stint, Rachel married Silas Orsemus Gleason, M.D., a recent graduate of Castleton Medical College; the couple had two children....

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Greene, Cordelia Agnes (05 July 1831–28 January 1905), physician and health reformer, was born in Lyons, New York, the eldest of five children of Jabez Greene and Phila Cooke. New England farmers and former Quakers turned Presbyterians, her parents settled in western New York along the banks of the Erie Canal shortly before her birth. Her father’s piety was matched only by his interest in progressive education, and his active role as a trustee in the local public school no doubt sparked his daughter’s lifelong concern with self-improvement. A serious student, she earned a teacher’s certificate from the county while still in her early teens....

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Jacqueline Karnell Corn

Hamilton, Alice (27 February 1869–22 September 1970), physician, was born in New York City, the daughter of Montgomery Hamilton and Gertrude Pond. Her family resided in Fort Wayne, Indiana, dependent on an inherited fortune. Because her parents did not believe in conventional education, Alice and her siblings did not attend school. They were taught by both parents. She had two years of formal education before entering the University of Michigan Medical School. After that, a long period of professional training and deep feelings of social commitment prepared her for work in occupational health. The professional training was an accomplishment for a woman of her generation. She received the M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1893, then spent two months as an intern in the Hospital for Women and Children in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and nine months at the New England Hospital for Women and Children near Boston. She was then advised that if she wished to pursue a career in bacteriology and pathology, study in Germany was necessary to make her an expert. She went to Germany to study at Leipzig and Munich for one year. The following year she studied at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore....

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Haupt, Alma Cecilia (19 March 1893–15 March 1956), public health nursing leader, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Charles Edgar Haupt, an Episcopal minister, and Alexandra Dougan. As the young sister of four brothers, Haupt described her childhood as a “tomboy existence tempered with exposure to the cultural and religious life” of her prominent St. Paul family. After completion of secondary education at West High School in St. Paul, she entered the Liberal Arts College at the University of Minnesota in 1911 and graduated four years later with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. After working for a year as a playground instructor in St. Paul and a social worker in Minneapolis, Haupt searched for a career that would provide her with mobility and, consequently, enrolled in the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. Upon graduation in 1919, she accepted a nursing position with the Minneapolis Visiting Nurse Association (MVNA), and within three years she became its nursing superintendent (1922–1924). Years later, Haupt recalled that the MVNA tasks of supervising home care and establishing a public health course for university nursing students were instrumental in directing her lifelong commitment to nursing’s critical role in the public’s health....

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Jean, Sally Lucas (18 June 1878–05 July 1971), health educator and nurse, was born in Towson, Maryland, the daughter of George Jean, a teacher, and Emilie Watkins Selby. Her mother was a devout Episcopalian from the South, while her father, who had fought for the northern troops during the Civil War, had been raised in a Presbyterian family. Jean, the youngest of their three children, had two experiences early in life that led her to dream of a nursing career. A close friend died of diphtheria, and shortly after that Jean played Florence Nightingale in a school play. Learning of Nightingale’s life-saving heroics, Jean resolved to follow in her footsteps. When Jean was fifteen her father died and she told her family of her desire to become a nurse. They urged her to become a teacher instead like her father. Obligingly she entered the Maryland State Normal School, from which she graduated in 1896....

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Kenny, Elizabeth (20 September 1880–30 November 1952), nurse and developer of a treatment for poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis), nurse and developer of a treatment for poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis), was born in Warialda, New South Wales, Australia, the daughter of Michael Kenny and Mary Moore, homesteaders. Kenny’s family moved frequently during her childhood, and her education was scattered and limited. At the age of eighteen she zealously taught herself the principles of anatomy and muscle function with the help of a surgeon friend, Aeneas John McDonnell, in order to help her brother William strengthen his frail frame through calisthenics....

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Kenyon, Josephine Hemenway (10 May 1880–10 January 1965), pediatrician and health educator, was born in Auburn, New York, the daughter of Charles Carroll Hemenway, a Presbyterian minister, and Ida Eliza Shackelford. When Kenyon was eleven, the family moved to Glasgow, Missouri, where her father accepted a position as president of Pritchett College. Later she studied at Pritchett, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1898 and a master’s degree the following year....

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Mendenhall, Dorothy Reed (22 September 1874–31 July 1964), physician and public health educator, was born in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Grace Kimball and William Pratt Reed, a wealthy shoe manufacturer. Although Mendenhall’s father died when she was six, the family was left comfortably well-off, and Mendenhall received an upper-class education at home, including instruction by a governess and frequent European travel....

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Merrick, Myra King (15 August 1825–10 November 1899), physician and educator, was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, the daughter of Richard King, a brickmaker, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). In 1826 the family emigrated to the United States and settled in Taunton, Massachusetts. At the age of eight, Myra began working in Taunton’s textile mills, helping to support a family that now numbered five children. In 1841 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she secured employment as a nurse to several physicians in the area and developed an interest in medicine as a profession. After her marriage to builder and machinist Charles H. Merrick in 1848, the couple moved to Connecticut, where she began the study of medicine under New Haven physicians Eli Ives, professor of theory and practice of medicine at Yale University, and his obstetrician son, Levi Ives....

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Putnam, Helen Cordelia (14 September 1857–03 February 1951), physician and public health reformer, was born in Stockton, Minnesota, the daughter of Herbert Asa Putnam, a general store owner, and Celintha T. Gates. She received her A.B. from Vassar College in 1878 and then enrolled in Harvard University’s Sargent School of Physical Training. In 1883, having completed that school’s course of study, she returned to Vassar as director of physical education. Shortly thereafter she became active in the affairs of the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education and served as its vice president from 1885 to 1888. She also enrolled in the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she specialized in obstetrics and the diseases of women and received her M.D. in 1889. In 1890 she left Vassar to become an intern at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston. Two years later she moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where she practiced gynecology for the next forty-three years....

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Richards, Linda (27 July 1841–16 April 1930), nursing leader and pioneer, was born Melinda Ann Judson Richards near Potsdam, New York, the daughter of Sanford Richards and Betsy Sinclair. No information on her early life and education is available. Evangelical religious roots and missionary habits, however, provided foundation, character, and purpose to Richards’s nursing life. As she wrote in her autobiography of 1911, “Quite early in my teens I was called upon for such service … ” In an era that preceded any sort of formal nurses’ training, when minimal hospital sick-care was provided by charwomen, unemployed men, or recovering patients, Richards worked at Boston City Hospital and “learned how little care was given to the sick, how little their groans and restlessness meant to most of the [untrained] nurses … the majority [of whom] were thoughtless, careless, and often heartless.” Determined to reform sick-care, Richards embarked upon her nursing career, which lasted forty years and included superintendencies at myriad institutions: four major hospitals, four smaller ones, four mental institutions (one of which she returned to for a second time), one Visiting Nurse Service, and one foreign school. In addition, she visited three British hospitals and consulted on the founding of other schools, including the first hospital school for nursing the insane in America....

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Rorer, Sarah Tyson (18 October 1849–27 December 1937), cooking teacher and diet reformer, was born Sarah Tyson Heston in Richboro, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Charles Tyson Heston, a pharmacist, and Elizabeth Sagers. The family resided in Buffalo, New York, but Elizabeth Heston returned to her mother’s home for the delivery of her firstborn. “Sallie,” as she was called, grew up in the Buffalo area and attended East Aurora Academy, a female seminary. She later attributed the beginnings of her interest in cooking reform to her father’s poor health and delicate digestion resulting from service in the Civil War. Around 1869 the family returned to eastern Pennsylvania, and in 1871 Sallie Heston married William Albert Rorer, a clerk/bookkeeper, in Philadelphia’s Second Reformed Church. The couple had three children, one of whom died in early childhood....

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Welsh, Lilian (06 March 1858–23 February 1938), physician, educator, and suffragist, was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Major Thomas Welsh and Annie Eunice Young. Her father served in the Mexican War in 1847, returned to civilian life, and then rejoined the military when the Civil War broke out. He had just risen to the rank of brigadier general, commanding a division of 4,500 men, when he took ill and died in 1863. Welsh graduated from Columbia High School at the age of fifteen as one of two young women making up the first graduating class. Between the years 1873 and 1881 she taught at the primary, elementary, and secondary levels and attended Millersville State Normal School in Pennsylvania and taught there. From 1881 to 1886 she served as the principal of Columbia High School. In 1885, finding no opportunities for women to advance their careers as superintendents of schools, she considered the two choices open to her for continuing her education: work for the A.B. at Bryn Mawr College, which had just opened that year, or proceed to the study of medicine for which at the time no college requirement was necessary. Interest in chemistry steered her on the latter course. She earned the M.D. from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889 and pursued her studies further by working toward a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Zurich in the hopes of becoming a research scientist. While in Zurich, she met Dr. ...

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Yarros, Rachelle (18 May 1869–17 March 1946), physician and reformer, was born Rachelle Slobodinsky at Berdechev near Kiev, Russia, the daughter of Joachim Slobodinsky and Bernice (maiden name unknown). Educated in primary schools, as a teenager she joined a radical revolutionary group, a move her wealthy family opposed. Eventually she realized that she might be sent to jail or Siberia, and she accepted enough money from her parents for passage to the United States. She arrived in New York in the late 1880s....