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indeed are and always have been the primary providers of care for the injured and sick, whether just for the family or for their communities. Today we have again come to realize that the woman in the family directs medical care for family members. There are records of women physicians (not only midwives) in antiquity and into the beginning of the Renaissance, but they soon disappeared only to resurface centuries later.

Why do we see them gradually disappear from the realm of medicine? Is it simply an issue of gender difference?
While women practiced as healers and midwives in antiquity, Hippocrates made it clear that this was a profession for men. Nevertheless women continued to practice medicine and surgery into the Renaissance. Yet from then on, admission of women to medicine was curbed and eventually blocked. The Renaissance was a period of new art and tremendous political strife. Man wielded the power and passed it to his male heirs. Clearly a physician had a degree of power, and it may well be that the need to control all power was a factor that led to the gradual exclusion of women from medicine. While a few female physicians practiced in the 17th and early 18th centuries in Britain, it was not until the mid 19th century that women were allowed to enter formal medical training in the United States and Great Britain, and we see the number of women in the field rise.
Two of the earliest leaders were Elizabeth Blackwell in the United States and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in Great Britain. Their stories illuminate the tremendous struggle women had to endure to accomplish their dream. While some schools such as Hopkins began at the end of the 1800s to grant women equal admission rights to medical training and trained a significant number of scientifically gifted female physicians, the difficulties of attending medical college were, for women, nearly insurmountable. Throughout the country various women’s medical colleges were founded, such as those in Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maryland, but it would take the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 to trigger important changes. Within a few years the number of women applicants to medical schools more than tripled. However, entrance to certain specialties took a few more decades, and urology is a prime example of this. Even today, women in urology account for only a small percentage of practicing urologists.

Elizabeth Blackwell 1849 (1821-1910),
Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917)
Photograph by Swaine. Wellcome Library, London

Our exhibit will trace some of these developments and include the stories of individual women past and present who have shaped the role their gender plays in today’s world of medicine.

Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parent and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art—if they desire to learn it—without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else. - Excerpt from the Hippocratic Oath

Skillful Healers
This white marble sculpture of Hygeia, the Greek and Roman goddess of health personified, was found at Ostia, near Rome, Italy. ‘Hygeia’ is derived from the root word ‘hugies’ or ‘hygies’, meaning healthy, which is also the root word for hygiene.
In reviewing the history of medicine, it is clear that perception and valuation of women plays a major part in shaping popular thought. During ancient times, these opinions varied around the world. In the ancient kingdoms of Akkad and Ur (in present-day Iraq) about 6,000 years ago, women were considered honorable healers. Medical knowledge traveled through commerce from there to the lands of the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Greeks. Medicine also may have had a cradle in India and operations such as caesarean sections, trephining and laparotomies were learned here by Hippocrates. In the Far East, the Chinese and Siamese had highly regarded female physicians who treated patients free of charge. China, during the Zhou Dynasty, was probably the most civilized country in the world at the time. Political fortunes and balances shifted, people moved, business thrived and perished, and knowledge spread throughout the world. During the Eastern Zhou period, the medical system included female imperial physicians trained in a variety of specialties. Medicine during ancient times also brought the concept that gifts for healing were given by divine intervention. Among the Celts in Ireland, priestesses of Druid gods, such as Sirona and Sul, dealt with medical problems with god-given abilities. As other mystical healers over time, these priestesses would ultimately suffer from the backlash of organized religion. In Egypt, Isis was the great goddess of medicine. Her sisters protected mortal humans from nighttime pains. Numerous other goddesses like Sekhmet, Hathor or Ubastet had special fields of competence in medicine just as physicians specialize today. Healing and harming were not far apart, and priestesses served as intermediaries between patient and goddess to procure the goodwill of the deities.

Isis in naos Asian and Middle Eastern Division,
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

In his 1465 textbook on surgery, Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu (1385-1468 A.D., Turkey) included a picture of a female physician (tabiba) at a hermaphroditism operation, Courtesy
Muammer Kendirci, M.D.

Isis with sistrum.
Picture Collection The Branch Libraries, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

I felt more determined than ever to become a physician, and thus place a strong barrier between me and all ordinary marriage. I must have something to engross my thoughts, some object in life which will fill this vacuum and prevent this sad wearing away of the heart. - Elizabeth Blackwell

Skillful Healers
Fragment of the Ebers Papyrus, New Kingdom, C.1550 B.C.
(papyrus), Egyptian, 18th Dynasty (C. 1567-1320 B.C.) University Library, Leipzig, Germany, Archives Charmet/ The Bridgeman Art Library International Women trained at the Royal Medical Schools in Egypt to become healers of disease: the women’s college where obstetrics and gynecology were specialties was located at the Rosetta mouth of the Nile at Saïs. The Ebers Papyrus, from around 1600 B.C., includes numerous subjects on medicine, surgery and anatomy. The Smith Papyrus has several hundred lines describing surgical injuries of the upper part of the spine and the upper part of the body. Women circumcised the boys, did prenatal care, attended pregnant women in birthhouses at the temples; most other diseases were treated by both male and female physicians. Women physicians were colleagues and not competitors of their male counterparts. Relics have been found that support the theory that the queens were probably leaders in medical matters, such as the medicine chest of Queen Mentuhetep (2300 B.C.). Evidence also indicates that Egyptian queens Hatshepsut and Cleopatra may have been physicians. Galen cites Cleopatra as the author of a compilation text discussing women’s diseases, skin disorders and cosmetics. In Greece, women were considered inferior – responsible for producing heirs for the estate, participating in obligatory religious rituals, and managing the household. None of these tasks required significant learned skills, and as a result we do not see evidence of education for women until sometime during the 4th century B.C. This attitude persisted for centuries in the West, though midwifery may have been an acceptable “occupation” for older women with childbearing experience. It is also in Greece that we see the omission of women in the original Hippocratic Oath, which specifically states that the oath is given by men only and only includes men and their sons as future physicians.

Facsimile copy of the Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus, original dating from C. 1600-1500 B.C.
(papyrus), Egyptian (after)/Archives Charmet, Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library

Queen Hatshepsut (c. 1503-1482 B.C.) drinking from the udder of Hathor, relief from the Chapel of Hathor in the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, New Kingdom,
Egyptian, 18th Dynasty (C.1567-1320 B.C.) Ancient Art and Architecture Collection Ltd., Deir El-Bahri, Thebes, Egypt The Bridgeman Art Library

Cleopatra depicted as a pharaoh makes a sacrifice to goddess Isis. A Stone Tablet carved during Cleopatra VII's reign.
The Museum of Alexandria, Egypt

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. - Marie Curie

Respected Colleagues
The Middle Ages brought dark days to women in the medical field, as men took over the powerful role of physician and the Christian Church reinforced the gender bias. At the beginning of the era, however, two women stand out: Trotula of Salerno and Hildegard von Bingen. Said to have been the first female professor of medicine in 11th century Italy, Trotula is the woman healer believed to have put together a compendium on women’s medicine. Though there were two additional contributors to the three-volume book, it is commonly referred to as “The Trotula: A Medieval Compendium of Women’s Medicine” after its female co-author. The compendium went through a number of reprints over time and was translated to English as late as 1940 – a testament to her legacy.

Hildegard von Bingen
(1098 – 1179)

Saint Hildegard Print Collection,
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Hildegard was born in Germany, the 10th child of a noble family. As was expected then, a tenth of everything was given to the Church and so Hildegard was dedicated at birth to the Church. At age seven she became a student of her aunt, an abbess. From early childhood on, Hildegard had visions of bright lights which may simply have been severe migraines. She shared these visions with her aunt and a monk named Volmar, who later became her personal secretary and transcribed what she saw. The visions developed into a number of books such as “Scivias” or the “Liber Vitae Meritorum” (“Know the Ways” and “The Book of Life’s Merits”). Her interest in science was put down in “Physica” and “Causa et Curae” (“Natural History” and “Causes and Cures”). The latter is a collection of medical information, including theory and remedies that was used as the text at the Montpellier Medical School. Hildegard had absolutely no medical training or background, yet her writings are remarkably accurate and still form the basis for many teachings of naturopaths, particularly in Europe. At age 38 she became an abbess and eventually founded her own abbey near Bingen on the Rhine River in Germany, and her advice was sought by many, including high clergy and laypeople.

Series of stamps depicting Hildegard von Bingen, Courtesy Erwin Rugendorff, M.D.

A manuscript illumination of "Scivias” from Hildegard von Bingen's "Liber divinorum operum"
Lucca Codex, 1220s

In the years following Hildegard’s visions and Trotula’s accomplishment, Western thought fell into darkness as superstitions and fears led to the persecution of many successful healers.

No woman studying medicine today will ever know how much it has cost the individuals personally concerned in bringing about these changes. – Marie Mergler, M.D., circa 1930, Dean of Woman’s Hospital Medical College, Chicago, 1899

Daring Intruders
Blackwell's letter of admission, Blackwell Family
Papers. Library of Congress The Grand Inquisition and witchhunts during the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance caused many female healers to disappear from history. While many would fall prey to Inquisitors’ torture, others simply gave up their practice for fear of prosecution. However, as the hysteria of the witchhunts faded and the Industrial Revolution opened more opportunities for women in the workforce, female physicians once again began to move into mainstream medicine. During the mid-19th century we begin to see them struggling for equal opportunities.

Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.
(1821– 1910) Elizabeth is commonly recognized as the first woman in the United States to be accepted to – and graduate from – medical school. It is said that Blackwell, a teacher, became interested in medicine and in becoming a physician to meet the needs of women who wished to be treated by a doctor of the same sex. She studied medical subjects privately before applying to an array of schools and ultimately being accepted to the Geneva Medical College in New York. “The idea of winning a doctor’s degree gradually assumed the aspect of a great moral struggle,” she later wrote. “And the moral fight possessed immense attraction for me.” Blackwell’s success influenced a large number of women in the 19th and 20th centuries, as she went on to pursue post-graduate education in Europe before returning to the United States and setting up her practice. Ultimately, she would open a dispensary in the New York slums (later incorporated as the New York Infirmary for Women and Children), the Women’s Central Association of Relief during the U.S. Civil War, the National Health Society and the Women’s Medical College in New York.

The Blackwell Family in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, 1906.
The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

New York Medical College for Women, C. 1875. The Schlesinger
Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Elizabeth Blackwell,
The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Elizabeth Blackwell's Geneva Medical College diploma
The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world. - Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.

Elizabeth Blackwell's Tombstone.
The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Daring Intruders
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
(1836 – 1917) Elizabeth was just one of many early key female physicians to be influenced by Blackwell. Born in London in 1836, Anderson began her medical career as a nurse at Middlesex Hospital and was tutored in the evening by the hospital’s chief physician. However, social rebellion against women studying medicine stymied her progress, and she was unable to obtain certification by the major examining bodies of the time. The Royal College of Surgeons stated that it would in no way allow the entry of women into the medical profession. There was only one way open to her – to apply to the Society of Apothecaries – which had obtained a royal charter in 1830 with the right to examine and license candidates in medicine after completion of five years apprenticeship, six courses of lectures and six months attendance at a public hospital dispensary. Most importantly, the Apothecaries Act of 1850 referred to “all persons” rather than specifying the sex of a candidate. However, certification by the Society of Apothecaries remained the lowest of medical qualifications.

Portrait of E. Garrett Anderson, The Wellcome
Library, London

Upon her application, the Society of Apothecaries had their charter reviewed by counsel and Elizabeth was accepted, provided she could fulfill the usual admission qualifications, which included a number of lectures at a medical school. Through the help of a social reform-minded physician, Dr. Chapman, she studied botany at the Physic Garden in Chelsea. Her instructor in physics was the famous John Tyndall; her natural history and physiology instructor was T.H. Huxley. Huxley’s views were also modern; he refused to have his own daughters “got up as man-traps for the matrimonial market,” and was all in favor of educating young women. At the end of 1862, Anderson succeeded in gaining admission to the University of Edinburgh via the secretary of the university. However, when the academic senate rescinded the admission, she requested an opinion on the legality of their decision. When the full senate confirmed the refusal to grant her admission (reinforced by the Lord Advocate of the University), she went to the press, which published a sympathetic open letter to her. Having failed at the university level to obtain her medical degree, she went again to Apothecary Hall. Those members resolved that she “be informed that the court of examiners only demand that the certificates on the various subjects required by the court be obtained from recognized lecturers of acknowledged schools of medicine.” She returned to Edinburgh where she worked at the Maternity Hospital and realized that no medical school or university would admit her on equal terms with men. When she finally completed all required courses and applied to sit for her final examination at the Apothecaries’ Hall, the Board informed her of their regret that they could not examine her. Under threat of a lawsuit and with the advice of the Apothecaries’ Guild’s own counsel, they finally agreed to let her sit for the examination. Anderson passed on September 22, 1865, thus becoming the first woman to obtain her degree in Great Britain. She would also be the first woman to obtain a medical degree at the Sorbonne in Paris before returning to London. In 1883, Anderson become the first dean of the London School of Medicine for Women. A new hospital was built with funds she collected from influential and wealthy friends, and by early 1890 she had an up-to-date modern library. Within a year, more than half the honors in medicine at London University went to the medical school’s female students.

Out-patients’ department, New Hospital for Women, London, 1916, The Wellcome
Library, London

The New Hospital for Women, London, which opened in 1890 with 42 beds, was the first hospital in Britain with only medical women appointed to its staff. In 1918 it became the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and continued to have only female medical staff until its absorption into a larger hospital in the 1980s. The New Hospital for Women, London Wellcome Library, London

Daring Intruders
Mary Putnam Jacobi, M.D.
(1842 – 1906) Mary was the daughter of publisher George P. Putnam. Although her father considered medical study a “repulsive pursuit,” Jacobi attended the New York College of Pharmacy and ultimately received her medical degree from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She went on to study clinical medicine at the New England Hospital for Women and Children with Mary Elizabeth Zakrzewska before going to Paris and becoming the first female student at the École de Médecine. She eventually returned to private practice in New York, where she also taught and conducted research at the New York Infirmary and Mt. Sinai Hospital. She was the first woman to be admitted to the New York Academy of Medicine and went on to be a strong proponent for female students – becoming very active in the struggle for equal educational opportunities for would-be women physicians. Of her many publications, the most important is “The Question of Rest for Women During Menstruation,” which refuted the earlier publication by Edward H. Clarke, “Sex in Education, or A Fair Chance for the Girls” from 1875. With data tables, pulse rate and blood pressure readings, she clearly documented women’s health, strength and agility throughout the menstrual cycle. The paper was awarded Harvard Medical School’s prestigious Boylston Medical Prize in 1876. Blackwell, Anderson and Jacobi were just three of the many women who struggled in the 19th century to ensure that women would receive equal opportunities to study medicine. Their work set off a string of change and controversy – in education and in practice – that continued well into the next century.

Mary Corinna Putnam Jacobi, M.D.
The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Mary Corinna Putnam Jacobi, M.D. Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Archives and Special
Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy, Drexel University College of Medicine

Human beings can be divided into three groups – men, women, and women physicians. - Sir William Osler

Tolerated Competitors
The passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 gave women in this country the right to vote. The result of more than 50 years of struggle and protest, this achievement may have been perceived by many as the ultimate victory. The women’s rights movement – both for societal equity and equality in the medical field – slowed notably afterward. Past the struggle to break into medicine, women then needed to carve their own niche within the medical community – either by separating themselves from their male counterparts or by assimilating into the mainstream. One of the ways women found acceptance was the establishment of female physician associations. The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) was founded in 1915 by prominent surgeon Bertha van Hoosen, M.D. Originally known as the National Women’s Medical Association, the group was developed to give a stronger voice to female physicians. Rather than isolate the women, the group required members to join the American Medical Association (AMA), and held its meetings at the same time. Though not all women doctors joined the AMWA, the association had sufficient voice to rally behind the commissioning of female doctors during World War I, which opened doors for many to practice in military hospitals and support the war effort. Other women took a different approach, choosing instead to ignore perceived gender differences and ease into the male medical community. In a letter to Dr. van Hoosen explaining her reason for not joining the AMWA, pediatric resident Ethel Walker, M.D. wrote: “In medical school and interne [sic] days I have seen it happen time and time again that the girls who were totally unconscious of any difference between themselves and their men confreres and who mingled with them on exactly the same footing achieved a professional equity and friendship which was entirely denied to the women who were always huddled together with other women and who continually made it plain to everybody that they were different and knew they were different. In my experience it has been the former group who did well in their profession … whereas the other group of women’s women … seldom advanced.”

Bertha van Hoosen
1951, (1863-1952) Rochester Hills Museum

Bertha van Hoosen, in Surgery, C. 1905, Rochester
Hills Museum

Esther Pohl Lovejoy, M.D.
Esther Pohl Lovejoy was the second woman to graduate from the University of Oregon Medical School but was the first to actually practice. Lovejoy was one of many at the time who found acceptance in gender-specific groups, such as the Medical Women’s National Association, the Medical Women’s International Association and the American Women’s Hospital Board – on which she served until her death in 1967.

In my third year [1954-1955] I took the Inlay Exam. My professor said in front of the patient, "I would grade this an A, but as you will just get married, have children, never practice, and as you are taking a man's place here, I am grading it a B." I exited the clinic with my vision clouded by tears and literally bumped into Dean Lester Burket, who wanted to know the cause of my distress. I hesitated in telling him but he insisted. Two hours later, the professor was seen leaving the school with all his personal effects – Dean Burket had fired him. - Frances Bondi Glenn, 1956 D.D.S.

Respected Peers
The second wave of feminism spread throughout the United States in the late 1960s and continued until the late 1980s. Notable achievements during this era included the Kennedy Administration’s development of the Commission on the Status of Women, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, the formation of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which included a provision for sex as well as race) and the Education Amendments of 1972. The governmental emphasis on, and requirement of, affirmative action programs led to significant spikes in the number of female applicants to medical schools in the early 1970s. By the fall of 1976, medical schools had seen a 700 percent increase in applicants since the 1959-60 academic year. During these years, an increase was also seen in the number of women entering surgical programs – long a male domain. Urology is one of the many surgical subspecialties that benefited from these changes; today our field boasts an increasing number of women urologists working in all areas – ranging from female disorders to prostate cancer, male infertility and erectile dysfunction. The American Urological Association (AUA) accepted its first female member in 1975, though the Executive Committee voted to accept qualified female urologists in 1954. It is unknown whether women simply did not apply to join the national AUA, or whether an inability to first join a Section (a requirement for joining the national association) was the obstacle. However, like van Hoosen and other leaders from the 19th century who would ultimately form the AMWA, early women urologists forged their own path and in 1980 a small group of women urologists including Larrian Gillespie, M.D., Jean Fourcroy, M.D. and Catherine Galvin, M.D. met for breakfast during the AUA Annual Meeting in San Francisco and formed what would become known as the Society for Women in Urology. Yearly breakfasts led to quarterly networking newsletters to share educational and career opportunities; the group formalized in 1995 with an executive board and bylaws. Today, the group boasts more than 300 members and holds events – including a breakfast – during the AUA Annual Meeting each year. As more women enter the field of urology, the playing field is becoming increasingly level. The leadership arena appears to be one of the last remaining obstacles. Long restrained by the proverbial glass ceiling in organized medicine, women are clearly rising and it is inevitable that the ceiling will soon shatter. In India, four urology departments are chaired by women. Germany, on the other hand, does not have a female urology chair. The United States has only one. The AUA Board of Directors does not include a woman. However, as the number of women urologists increases, it is no longer a question of whether or not the AUA will have a woman in a leadership role, but rather, when?

How long will women wait for liberty? Washington, D.C. 1922.
Printed Ephemera Collection; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Letter from Susan B. Anthony to the President of the Women’s Medical College. Archives
and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy, Drexel University College of Medicine

Elisabeth Pauline Pickett, M.D.
The first female urologist to receive certification by the American Board of Urology (ABU) was Elisabeth Pauline Pickett, M.D., who trained at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital under Victor Marshall, M.D. Board-certified in 1962 by the ABU and by the American Board of Surgery the year before, Dr. Pickett would go on to hold associate professorships in surgery and urology at the New York Infirmary and later head the spinal cord injury center at Castle Point, New York. The second female surgeon to be certified by the ABU was Mary Louise Gannon—13 years later. In 1975, Dr. Gannon became the first woman to become a member of the AUA.

Courtesy Pauline Pickett, M.D. and Sharon Doyle

Chairman Eleanor Roosevelt President’s Commission on the Status of Women, The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe
Institute, Harvard University

Too often the great decisions are originated and given form in bodies made up wholly of men, or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women have to offer is shunted aside without expression. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Curious Herbals
Learning and manipulating nature’s secrets to heal has been a mainstay of medicine since antiquity. Folk remedies were the staple of community-based medicine and were prepared most often by village women to whom lore had been passed down over generations. The practice of using herbs to heal is universal and transcends Western culture, spanning nearly every country in the world. From the beginning of humanity, plants have been used in some form in the treatment of maladies. Evidence dates the use of herbs back to 5,000 B.C. The first formal catalog of herbs and their uses, De materia medica, was created by Dioscorides in the first century A.D. Galen, the ancient Roman physician whose views dominated Western medicine for centuries, pioneered the use of medicinal herbs. But it was predominantly village women – to whom herbal lore had been passed for generations – who laid the groundwork for his breakthroughs. The line between healing and harming is thin, and the practice of herbalism is delicate. While societies enjoyed the benefits of well-practiced, trusted remedies (some with legitimate results) for the most basic and complex of ills, it was this trust that ultimately put experienced healers at risk for persecution during the Middle Ages. As the Church began its ascent in society, women fell in social status and natural healers became a target for the Grand Inquisition. As the Christian Church rose in power and the Roman Empire fell, developments in herbalism moved from the West to the East, as Arab civilization continued the studies of Galen’s theories. This civilization was the first to use herbal tinctures and alcohol extracts to administer herbal remedies. As development continued within the Arab scientific community, it was easily re-imported back to Europe as Crusaders returned home from the foreign lands. The Benedictine monks were some of the first to adopt the practice of making such tinctures in western Europe.




Drakontion (Arum)
Plants of the arum family are distinguished by the occasionally beautiful and often bizarre combination of spathe and spadix such as seen in Jack-in-thepulpits. This peculiar form caused the plants, since early times, to be interpreted as a phallic symbol and thus a remedy for fertility. Other medical uses include remedy against lung diseases, stomach cleanser and appetite suppressant.

Mekon Keratites
The poppy was recommended by Dioscorides as a remedy for liver pains and its seed as a purgative. Poppy leaves were supposed useful as a compress for sores.

Cyclamen corms were used in antiquity both for inducing labor and reducing child-bearing pains as well as a purgative. Dioscorides mentions its efficacy as an aphrodisiac.

Known to us as a poison; Socrates was given a concoction of hemlock to execute his death sentence. The entire plant is poisonous. The active component is an alkaloid – coniine; it is a sedative and antispasmodic; overdoses lead to paralysis with depression of respiratory function and death usually results from asphyxia.

The Crocus is both an aphrodisiac and a poison.

Seeds of pomegranate were a fertility drug, probably due to the tremendous number of seeds. Saffron, which is very expensive, comes from crocus. Those who created false saffron were burnt alive.

Curious Herbals
One of the more notable herbalists of these Early Middle Ages was Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) who catalogued her recipes and recommendations for herbal use. The tenth child of the family, she was tithed and dedicated at birth to the church – as was customary at the time. The young German girl, however, had a mystic quality and spoke to her anchoress, Jutta, and a monk named Volmar of seeing visions. One such vision was said to have given her absolute understanding of religious texts and she was commanded to write down everything that she learned in every vision she had. As a result, Hildegard dictated prolifically on a variety of topics, including theology, nature and philosophy. One of the most notable was the two-volume work Liber Subtilatum (1150), which outlined natural history as well as the curative powers of various natural objects. While surely many other women were practiced herbalists during the Middle Ages, social restraint and risk of persecution ultimately forced many to stifle their practices. Ironically, it was more the origin of knowledge, rather than the practice of herbalism itself, which was the problem. Formally trained physicians using the same practices and herbal remedies in the hospital setting that folk healers were using in their communities were not persecuted during these tumultuous times. Healers who practiced their arts without having studied medicine were prosecuted since it was believed medical knowledge not gained through a medical school could only have been given by Satan. Not until Elizabeth Blackwell (1712-1770) in the 18th century do we begin to see laypersons involved prominently in the promotion of herbalism. Blackwell, a studied botanist and herbalist, authored The Curious Herbal as a means to help pay the outstanding obligations of her husband Alexander, who was imprisoned for debt in 1737. Her two-volume work was published in 1737 and contains 500 color drawings and copper engravings depicting plants most useful in the practice of medicine and outlining their individual uses. The work found the support of the Royal College of Physicians and the Company of Apothecaries. Notable male contemporaries, including the famous obstetrician and surgeon James Douglas (1675-1742) considered her one of the most accomplished women of the time. Her namesake, Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. (1821-1910), called her “a physician-accoucheur worthy of all praise.”

the Curious Herbal, Elizabeth Blackwell, 1737 Missouri Botanical Garden,

Herbalism went on to become a key ingredient in the quackish cures of quacksalvers around the world, with some tonics and potions defying medical reason. However, some of the botanicals that have served healers for millennia continue in the physician’s arsenal to this day.

Well-known to us – foxglove has long been used to cure dropsy and a variety of diseases. It was used for cleaning sores and ulcers with the crushed leaves, as an expectorant in wine, to heal fresh wounds. It then showed up in the European dispensatories and pharmacopeias in the 1600s and led to the discovery of digitalis. As we know, digitalis can be excellent in the treatment of cardial failure, but an overdose can still be fatal.

A beautiful plant, the flower of which varies from white to purple red. Opium is extracted from the poppyheads before they have ripened. Again, as in most of the other poisonous plants, the active ingredients are alkaloids. Opium is an excellent pain reliever and calms excitement; it is employed in the treatments of diarrhea and dysentery and has long been used as an agent to decrease coughing.

Meadow Saffron
A slender, crocus-like plant, flowers in the fall; while poisonous, the root and seeds are used for their anti-rheumatic cathartic and emetic properties. The active ingredient is colchicine. Overdoses cause a violent purging with significant gastrointestinal irritation.

Plate 89.

Plate 90.

Bear's Breech or Brank Ursin Acanthus
“ . . . and for the Stone and Gravel” Missouri Botanical Garden

Marshmallows. Althaea Bismalva, Ibiscus
“ . . . Gravel Stone, Heat of urine corroding Humors in the stomach and Guts, . . .” Missouri Botanical Garden

Black Cohosh was used as an astringent, an expectorant, a diuretic and for children’s diarrhea, but it produces nausea and vomiting in overdoses.

The Ewe tree, sacred to the ancient Druids, has poisonous fruit and seeds that contain cardiotoxic taxine alkaloids.

Belladonna (deadly nightshade) was used for epilepsy and renal colic. Since it produced hallucinations, it was also used as an aphrodisiac and in love potions.

Dreaded Witches
The beginning of the Middle Ages coincides with the rise of the Christian Church, whose influence was taking root. While much medical practice at the time was based on the achievements of the ancient societies, folk medicine did not align itself with Christianity and, as a result, a deep tension began to form between the Church and folk healers. Illness was considered a punishment for sin; repenting – rather than an herbal remedy – was the cure. As Church influence grew and spread, herbalists, who were more accessible to peasants and laborers than trained physicians, were gradually excluded from medical society. Saints took the place of gods and goddesses in healing sick patients, and monasteries took a major lead in running hospitals for the sick. At the same time, society’s attitude toward women changed. Natural disasters and illnesses at that time, particularly epidemics, were often considered to be caused by women: it was witchcraft. In the 13th century, women healers came under new fire as the Inquisition was instituted in Europe and the Church began prosecuting heretics. Herbalism was seen as witchcraft, and witchcraft as heresy. Though not all women healers were prosecuted, healing itself was cause for many suspects to be hunted, tortured and convicted. This would go on for centuries, as history shows physicians in the 16th and 17th century blaming many medical problems on “women who made it an art to rob people not only of their money but also of their limbs and health.”

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Witches Sabbath, 1510 Hans Baldung Grien (c. 1480 - 1545) most gifted student of Albrecht Duerer,
Institute for the History of Medicine, Cologne, Germany Related to jimsomweed and deadly nightshade, was known as the “devil’s weed.” It derivates, atropine and scopolamine, have long been associated with witches who supposedly used the powerful hallucinogenic drugs to create the illusion of flying and to place their victims into trance-like states.

Indian hemp
Grows naturally in Persia, Northern India, Southern Siberia and probably in China, but has been cultivated by now in almost every place on earth. The botanical name is cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana. It can be smoked, pounded with water to make a drink, or incorporated into food. Its principle use was to ease pain and induce sleep – a sedative. It does not cause constipation and has been useful in neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, insomnia, and other similar illnesses. Since it can induce exhilarating intoxication and hallucinations, it has names such as “leaf of delusion,” “increaser of pleasure,” “cementer of friendship” and so forth.

Although the most incisive judges of the witches and even the witches themselves were convinced of the guilt of witchcraft, this guilt nevertheless did not exist. Thus it is with all guilt. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Dreaded Witches
These healers or “wise women” used herbs, salves and ointments; these same therapies also were used by barber-surgeons and physicians. Herbs, many of which did not have any medical properties, included a number of alkaloid plants, which were thought to have come from the devil since they were mind-altering substances. Diseases that could not be cured were claimed to originate with the witchcraft of a healer in the area. One typical example is Alison Peirsoun, a gifted healer called by the Archbishop of St. Andrews, Edinborough to heal his problems, which were probably psychosomatic. Alison cured him, but the Archbishop not only refused to pay her but had her incarcerated, accused of witchcraft, and then executed. Torture and execution was a lucrative business, which may have helped perpetuate the atrocities of the Inquisition. Usually the victim had to pay for incarceration, meals, torture instrument costs and banquets for the torturers, judge and clergy. The property of those convicted was confiscated and additional expenses (including the cost for execution) had to be paid by her heirs. One proof of being a witch was any kind of birthmark, which required the suspects to be stripped naked and “painstakingly” examined. They were then tortured until they confessed. Once they confessed, they were told to name their accomplices and tortured until they complied. A notable volume of the time was the Malleus Maleficarum, first authored in 1487 by two Dominican Inquisitors. The book became the instruction manual to ferret out witches, was available in multiple languages and underwent 30 printings by 1669. Malleus Maleficarum, or “Witch’s Hammer” was directed explicitly against women. The authors claimed that women leaned toward witchcraft because they were dumber, weaker, more superstitious and less firm in their faith than men. Furthermore, women’s lives were totally and irredeemably centered in the lust of the flesh. The fires of the witch hunt burned throughout Europe from Russia to France and from Spain to the British Isles. Exact numbers of murdered “witches” are difficult to find; however, in Germany alone 100,000 people were processed in this manner. In one small area not far from Cologne between 125 and 150 witches were executed between 1631 and 1636. The last public execution of a witch in the United States took place in 1692 and in Germany in 1775. Yet women never regained their role as healers; indeed, the craze for witch hunts significantly lowered the status of women throughout Western Civilization. Witch hunts succeeded in excluding women from the ranks of practicing healers; in the modern centuries science and natural law took up the role previously played by the Inquisition and Christian theology in controlling women’s access to higher education.

The Witch and the Mandrake by Fuseli, Henry (Fussli, Johann Heinrich) (1741-1825) 1533 account of the execution of a witch charged with burning the town of Schiltach in 1531. This Swiss publication (c. 1571) gives detailed instruction on how to burn a witch at the stake.
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK/ The Bridgeman Art Library

Written by German Jesuit Friedrich Spee in the 1600’s, the Cautio Criminalis was a treatise against the witch trials in which Spee argued the trials were contrary to Christian morality, rationality and established law. Spee's insights into the trials came from his personal experience as a prison chaplain ministering to convicted "witches" prior to their execution.

I am no more a witch than you are a wizard. If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink. - Sarah Good (?–1692), Colonial American woman convicted of witchcraft

Advances in Education
Though many institutions would be established in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide education to aspiring women physicians, including the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, others – such as Johns Hopkins – struggled with the concept of integrating women. When Johns Hopkins, a wealthy philanthropist, bequeathed money for the creation of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he envisioned a hospital and medical school that would benefit the indigent population of the state and its largest city. Though the hospital admitted its first patients in 1889, the medical school was held up due to a “precarious financial situation.” It would be a group of local women who would come to the institution’s aid. Establishing the Women’s Medical Fund, Mary Elizabeth Garrett led the fundraising efforts that garnered nearly $400,000 to open the medical school. The money, however, came with a stipulation: that women be admitted on the same basis as men. Believing that impossible, the trustees accepted the donation.

Dorothy Reed, M.D.
Indeed, women were admitted into the first class at Hopkins; however, their lives were by no means easy. They still had to battle for admission, internships and residencies. They had problems renting space for their practices, but the worst indignities came from their own fellow students and faculty. William Osler, one of the “Big Four” of the early Hopkins physicians, tried to discourage student Dorothy Reed from entering the campus; Hospital Superintendent Henry Hurd tried to push her out of her internship. She ultimately spent part of her time in the pathology lab shared by Osler and William Welch, and went on to discover that Hodgkin’s Disease is a neoplastic disease of the hematopoietic system and not a form of tuberculosis as previously thought.

Students at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. Archives and Special Collections
on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy, Drexel University College of Medicine

Dorothy Reed
The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Letter from William Welch recommending Reed for a fellowship. The
Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Florence R. Sabin, M.D.
(1871-1953) Act of Incorporation for the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. Archives and Special
Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy, Drexel University College of Medicine Sabin was a classmate of Reed’s, and also graduated from the Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1900, and in 1902 would be the first woman to join its faculty. In 1908 she became the first female full professor, and she held the position until 1925. Sabin also became the first woman president of the American Association of Anatomists and the first woman member of the National Academy of Sciences. Ultimately, disgruntled that she did not become chair of anatomy at Hopkins, she accepted an offer from the Rockefeller Institute and became the first woman to be a full member there.

Garrett and the ladies of the Friday Evening Fundraising Committee. Bryn Mawr
College Library

statue of sabin. National Statuary Hall Collection The Alan Mason
Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Advances in Education
Helen Brooke Taussig
(1898-1986) Probably one of the best-known female physicians at Hopkins is Helen Brooke Taussig, who graduated in 1927 with specialties in cardiology and pediatrics. In 1939, she was running the cardiac clinic at the Hopkins’ Children’s Center and studying rheumatic fever and congenital heart disease. With Chief of Surgery Alfred Blalock and head technician Vivian Thomas, Taussig developed an idea for an operation to help victims of the “blue baby” syndrome. The Blalock-Taussig operation they developed redirects blood flow to the lungs. Taussig is also well known for her role in uncovering serious complications of thalidomide when used to treat insomnia and morning sickness in pregnant women. In the early 1960s, Taussig heard from a colleague of a possible link between the drug in Europe and devastating birth defects. After traveling to Europe, Taussig reported these findings to the United States public and the Food and Drug Administration halted approval of the drug. Today, thalidomide is used to treat kidney cancer and aphthous ulcers in AIDS patients and is not used in pregnant women. Above Photo: The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Helen Taussig examining child, The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Virginia Apgar, M.D.
(1909-1974) Born in 1909 in New Jersey, Virginia Apgar majored in zoology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The loss of her eldest brother to tuberculosis and chronic childhood illnesses of her brother Lawrence may have prompted Apgar to enter medicine. After graduating from Mount Holyoke, she went to medical school at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, in New York, during the Great Depression. One of four women, she graduated fourth in her class in 1933. Her desire to become a surgeon culminated in winning a surgical internship at Columbia, but despite her excellent performance, Dr. Whipple, chair of the department, discouraged her from entering surgery, telling her that other women who had trained under him had failed to establish a practice in this field. Instead, he encouraged her to train in anesthesia, at that time usually performed by nurses. After completing her surgical residency, Apgar spent six months in the anesthesia program at the University of Wisconsin, the first in the United States. In 1938, at age 29, she returned to Columbia University as the director of the division of anesthesia, but had trouble recruiting physicians; anesthesia was yet to become an acknowledged medical specialty. In 1946, anesthesia was acknowledged as a field and it became a full department at Columbia in 1949; Apgar was appointed full professor, at that time, the first female full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Above Photo: Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections

Virginia Apgar building a Viola. Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons A gifted violinist, Apgar played violin with the orchestra at Mount Holyoke College. She played both the viola and cello as well as built both instruments. A wonderful story relates that in 1957, unable to find the right wood for the backing of a viola she was building, Apgar and another musician discovered and took a shelf – made of well-seasoned curly maple – from a public phone booth. They replaced the shelf with wood stained to resemble the original, and Apgar completed her viola with the purloined wood. Confronted with very high neonatal mortality rates at her institution, Apgar made certain that newborns in distress were given prompt attention. She then charted a number of issues anesthesiologists addressed pre- and post-operatively, assessing heart rate, respiration, reflex, irritability, muscle tone and skin color, which became a simple and rapid method to assess the medical condition of newborn babies. She presented this work in 1952, and it was published in 1953; however, it was not immediately accepted. Eventually the five-minute Apgar score became the standard to evaluate an infant’s need for and response to lifesaving assistance. In 1959, Apgar took a sabbatical and went to Hopkins to obtain a Master’s degree in public health before leaving academic medicine and concentrating her efforts on the prevention of birth defects through public education.

Women in Urology Today
Women have made headway in the medical field, occupying high-ranking positions at major medical universities and hospitals, and establishing successful private practices with one common goal: to further the advances of medicine, ultimately improving the lives of their patients. There are countless women who have overcome adversity and gender bias, and have proven to be on-par with their male counterparts. Included among them are the following inspirational role models.

Jean Fourcroy, M.D.

Catherine deVries, M.D.

Catherine deVries obtained her medical degree from Stanford University in California, and is currently a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of Utah, where she specializes in pediatric urology. In 1992, she volunteered with an organization that provided free reconstructive surgery in developing countries. Recognizing a need for basic urological care, she established the International Volunteers in Urology (IVU). IVU has more than 1,700 healthcare professional-volunteers working around the world, including countries in South America as well as in Mongolia, Ghana and Cuba. The American Medical Women’s Association bestowed upon Dr. deVries the Award for Community Service in 1998; in 2003 the state of Utah honored her as “Best of State Humanitarian,” and in 2006 she received the Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine for her outstanding international service from the American Medical Association.

Jean Fourcroy, M.D. realized her dream of becoming a physician later than most, but with an unwavering perseverance completed her Ph.D. dissertation during her surgical internship at George Washington University in Washington D.C. in 1977. Three years later she became board-certified in urology, the fifth such female physician in the United States. She rounded out her academic training with a master’s degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1999. A captain in the U.S. Navy, Fourcroy became an academic urologist at Bethesda Naval Hospital from 1980 until her retirement. She has worked as a medical officer with the Food and Drug Administration, works with the Drug Enforcement Agency, and is on the board of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The AUA acknowledged her work with the Presidential Citation Award in 1998 and an Outstanding Service Award in 2000.

Natasha Kyprianou, Ph.D.

Monica Liebert, Ph.D.

Monica Liebert, Ph.D., received her doctorate in experimental pathology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. She performed post-doctoral work in tumor immunology at the University of Pittsburg before becoming a laboratory director at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, ultimately reaching the level of associate research scientist and assistant professor in the Section of Urology before taking positions at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in 1994. In 2001, Dr. Liebert became the first director of the newly established Office of Research for the American Urological Association, where her work included lobbying for the establishment of a division of urology at the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Liebert worked at the AUA while simultaneously maintaining an adjunct professorship and continuing her research in the Department of Urology at the University of Michigan. She departed the AUA in 2006 to assume a full professorship. Her research focuses primarily on bladder cancer.

Natasha Kyprianou, Ph.D. obtained her doctorate in molecular endocrinology from the University of Wales College of Medicine in the United Kingdom. Studying the action of steroid hormones and the impact they have on the human body catalyzed Dr. Kyprianou’s interest in urology. After a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Donald Coffey at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, she completed a fellowship in molecular oncology in London before taking her first faculty position at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Among her many achievements, Dr. Kyprianou became the first female director of urologic research in the United States, and was recently honored with the Woman in Urology Award for Excellence in Urology Research, a joint honor given by the Society for Basic Urologic Research and the Society of Women in Urology. She currently holds a dual academic appointment in the division of urology and in molecular and cellular biochemistry. She is the chair of urological research at the University of Kentucky.

Women in Urology Today
Cathy Naughton, M.D.
Cathy Naughton, M.D. is currently practicing with Metropolitan Urological Specialists in St. Louis, MO. She received undergraduate training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, and holds a medical degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She completed general surgical and urology residency training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, followed by a fellowship in male infertility and microsurgery at the Glickman Urological Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. From 2001 to 2006, she served as assistant professor and director of male infertility and microsurgery at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Naughton’s clinical interests include male infertility, microsurgery and female sexual function.

Linda M. Dairiki Shortliffe, M.D.

Linda M. Dairiki Shortliffe, M.D. chose a path in medicine at the coaxing of her parents – Japanese Americans who spent World War II in internment camps and faced employment discrimination. Since 1988, she has been chief of pediatric urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine Medical Center and Packard Children’s Hospital. Although she spent a number of years as chief of urology at the Palo Alto Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, CA doing prostate research, it was her interest in reconstructive surgery that drew her to pediatric urology. Now chair of the Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Urology and director of the Urology Residency Program, Dr. Shortliffe has encouraged more women to join the field of pediatric urology.

Vicki Ratner, M.D.

Vicki Ratner, M.D. completed her residency in orthopedic surgery at the Montefiore/Albert Einstein Medical Center in New York. Continual bladder problems led her to diagnose herself with interstitial cystitis, which was later confirmed. Today she is an orthopedic surgeon in northern California but continues her strong interest in interstitial cystitis, serves on National Institute of Health Interstitial Cystitis trial groups, works with the AUA Foundation and is president of the International Cystitis Foundation, which she founded in 1984. Dr. Ratner and others have now helped to delineate the pathophysiology of and develop a sound therapeutic approach to interstitial cystitis.

Kristene E. Whitmore, M.D.

Kristene Whitmore, M.D., daughter of well-known urologist Willard F. Whitmore, M.D., attended medical school at Hahnemann University in Pennsylvania and completed an internship and residency in general surgery, then spent two years in the department of Tumor Immunology and subsequently her urology residency, all at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She was an adjunct assistant professor of urology at UCLA but then returned to Pennsylvania where she was clinical assistant professor for the first five years. Since 1989, she has been chief of urology at the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Her research interests and publications focus on urinary incontinence, voiding function and dysfunction, interstitial cystitis, female sexual dysfunction and pelvic floor disorders.