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Margaret Arnstein. Right, with Secretary of HEW Oveta Culp Hobby. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (A018286).

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Arnstein, Margaret (27 October 1904–08 October 1972), public health nurse and educator, was born Margaret Gene Arnstein in New York City, the daughter of Leo Arnstein, a successful businessman, and Elsie Nathan, a volunteer social worker. She was exposed to public health nursing at an early age by her parents, both second-generation Jewish Americans of German heritage, who were involved with ...

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S. Josephine Baker. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02220).

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Baker, Sara Josephine (15 November 1873–22 February 1945), physician and public health administrator, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the daughter of Orlando Daniel Mosher Baker, an eminent lawyer, and Jenny Harwood Brown, one of the first Vassar College graduates. In her autobiography Baker described her father, who came from Quaker stock, as a sober, quiet man who “never uttered an unnecessary word,” while her mother, “gay, social and ambitious,” traced her ancestry back to Samuel Danforth, one of the founders of Harvard College. A happy child, Baker drew inspiration from both parents. Wishing to make it up to her father for not being born a boy, she became an enthusiastic baseball player and trout-fisher and read ...

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Mary F. Beard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103743).

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Beard, Mary (14 November 1876–04 December 1946), public health administrator, was born in Dover, New Hampshire, the daughter of Ithamar Warren Beard, an Episcopalian minister, and Marcy Foster. At the age of twelve she contracted diphtheria and was confined to her home for an extended convalescence, during which she was cared for by a kind visiting nurse. Deeply moved by the experience, she determined to devote her own life to nursing. She eventually dropped out of high school and then worked for several years as a private tutor in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1899 she enrolled in the New York Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated in 1903 and the next year began caring for sick people in their homes as a staff nurse for the year-old Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Waterbury, Connecticut....

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Bennett, Alice (31 January 1851–31 May 1925), physician and hospital administrator, was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, the daughter of Isaac Francis Bennett, a blacksmith, and Lydia Hayden. She taught in the district schools of her hometown for four years to earn tuition for medical school, receiving her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1876. Following graduation, Bennett worked at a dispensary in a Philadelphia working-class neighborhood, taught anatomy at her alma mater, and maintained a private medical practice while continuing her study of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1880 she became the first woman to receive a doctor of philosophy degree from that university....

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Casal, Lourdes (5 Apr. 1938–1 Feb. 1981), poet, literary critic, social psychologist, and political activist, was born Lourdes Emilia Irene de la Caridad Casal y Valdés in Havana, Cuba, the daughter of two professional parents, Pedro Casal, a doctor in medicine and a dentist, and Emilia Valdés, an elementary school teacher. Of mixed heritage, Casal’s family included black, white, and Chinese ancestry....

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Cordero, Ana Livia (4 July 1931–21 Feb. 1992), political activist, physician, and public health advocate, was born Ana Livia Cordero Garcés in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the elder of two daughters of Rafael de J. Cordero and Ana Livia Garcés. Rafael de J. Cordero was an economist and University of Puerto Rico professor who served as auditor and then comptroller of Puerto Rico under governors ...

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Crandall, Ella Phillips (16 September 1871–24 October 1938), public health nurse and educator, was born in Wellsville, New York, the daughter of Herbert A. Crandall, a manufacturer, and Alice Phillips, a seamstress. She grew up in Dayton, Ohio, to which her father moved in 1872 to work with the railroad. The Crandalls were Presbyterians, and Crandall’s father served on Dayton’s school and health boards....

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Dock, Lavinia Lloyd (26 February 1858–17 April 1956), nurse, suffragist, and social reformer, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Gilliard Dock and Lavinia Lloyd Bombaugh, landlords. Dock, who later came to think of herself as a feminist, received what she called an “oldfashioned and conventional” education at a local female academy. Her life was basically carefree until her mother died when Dock was eighteen, leaving her and her older sister with the responsibility of raising their four siblings....

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Fitzgerald, Alice (13 March 1875–10 November 1962), nurse and public-health administrator, was born Alice Louise Florence Fitzgerald in Florence, Italy, the daughter of Charles H. Fitzgerald and Alice Riggs Lawrdson. Her parents, both from Baltimore, Maryland, were independently wealthy and chose to live in Florence. Alice was taught by governesses, became proficient in English, French, German, and Italian, attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Florence, and then went to a finishing school in Switzerland....

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Gardner, Mary Sewall (05 February 1871–20 February 1961), pioneer of public health nursing, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Sewall Gardner and Mary Thornton, a descendant of Matthew Thornton, who had signed the Declaration of Independence. Gardner graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, in 1890. Years later, she attended Newport Hospital Training School for Nurses, in Rhode Island, and graduated cum laude in 1905....

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Hopkins, Juliet Ann Opie (07 May 1818–09 March 1890), Civil War nurse and hospital administrator, was born on a plantation, “Woodburn,” in Jefferson County, Virginia, the daughter of Hierome Lindsay Opie, a planter and U.S. senator, and Margaret Muse Opie. English tutors prepared her for Miss Ritchie’s private school in Richmond. She returned home at age sixteen, after her mother’s death, to manage her father’s vast estate, including two thousand slaves....

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Kendrick, Pearl L. (24 Aug. 1890–8 Oct. 1980), public health leader and bacteriologist known for developing the whooping cough vaccine, was born in Wheaton, Illinois, the middle child of Milton H. Kendrick and Ella Shaver Kendrick. Her father, a Protestant clergyman, moved his family from Illinois to Utica, New York, and later to Herkimer, New York....

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Lape, Esther Everett (8 Oct. 1881–17 May 1981), journalist, World Court advocate, and medical care activist, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Henry Lape and Esther E. Butler, both Quakers. Receiving her primary and secondary education in public schools in Philadelphia, she attended Bryn Mawr College on a scholarship but transferred to Wellesley College where she received a bachelor’s degree in ...

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Lovejoy, Esther Pohl (16 November 1869–17 August 1967), physician and medical administrator, was born Esther Clayson in a logging camp near Seabeck, Washington Territory, the daughter of Edward Clayson, a logging-camp operator, and Annie Quinton. During her childhood financial difficulties caused the family to move to Portland, Oregon, where they ran a hotel. As a young girl she watched as her mother nearly died following numerous pregnancies, but when a woman physician safely delivered her sister, Esther became intrigued with medicine. Acquaintance with a female medical student further inspired her to become a doctor....

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Potter, Ellen Culver (05 August 1871–09 February 1958), physician, public health administrator, and welfare reformer, was born in New London, Connecticut, the daughter of Thomas Wells Potter, a grocer, and Ellen Culver. Her interest in medicine began in childhood, although as an adolescent she studied art and was interested in social work. After graduating from high school, she studied art in Boston and attended the Art Students League of New York City from 1893 to 1894. Potter worked in the settlement-house movement at the Morning Star Mission in New York City’s Chinatown in 1895–1896 and organized a settlement in Norwich, Connecticut, between 1895 and 1897. She then left to study art and music in Europe (1898–1899)....

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Thompson, Mary Harris (15 April 1829–21 May 1895), physician, was born near Fort Ann, New York, the daughter of John Harris Thompson, co-owner of an iron mine, and Calista Corbin. She attended a Methodist school, Troy Conference Academy, in West Poultney, Vermont, and then completed preprofessional education at Fort Edward Collegiate Institute at Fort Edward, New York. Owing to her father’s business difficulties, from age fifteen she had to support herself as a student by teaching at the schools she attended and at public schools. She studied astronomy, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy independently, and she successfully added the latter two subjects to the curricula at the schools where she taught....

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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. ...