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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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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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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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King, Cora Smith Eaton (7 Sept. 1867–21 Nov. 1939), suffragist, physician, and surgeon, was born Cora Eliza Smith in Rockford, Illinois, the only daughter of Colonel Eliphaz Smith and Sara Barnes. Her family later moved to Dakota Territory, settling in Grand Forks. Following high school, she graduated from the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia in ...

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Cora Smith King (left), 1924, by unknown artist

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 [LC-F8- 31745]

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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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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. ...