Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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The first annual announcement to the public regarding the pupils and faculty of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania.

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“Will You Accept or Reject Them?”: The First Female Medical College

Prior to 1850, women practiced medicine in their communities and worked as nurses and midwives, but had no opportunities to formally train, and be recognized, as physicians. Many thought that it was improper for women to study medical subjects and anatomy alongside men, if at all, and were opposed to women entering medicine as professionals. Others thought it was more appropriate for a female physician, instead of a male physician, to treat female patients. It was in this time that a small group of Philadelphia Quakers began to imagine a future where women were professional physicians, appropriately educated with a medical degree, and serving their communities equally with their male counterparts. In 1850, they founded the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical school in the nation and the world to train women as physicians.

The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania was the first college to grant medical degrees to women. Its founding allowed women to formally train as doctors, preparing them for a profession which was dominated by men. In the years following the founding of WMCP, several other medical school for women were established, including the New England Female Medical College (founded in 1856) and Women's College of The New York Infirmary (1865). In 1849, there was one woman MD in the nation, and by 1860 there were 200. This increase would have been impossible without schools like WMCP and supporters and faculty of both genders.

Creator: Female Medical College of Pennsylvania

Language: english

Item Number: a076_021

Pages: 8

Size: 21.5 x 15cm

Physical Collection: Records of W/MCP Publications 1850-present (ACC-076), ACC-076

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. The First Female Medical College: Will you accept or reject them?. Doctor or Doctress?: Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians. The Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Philadelphia, PA. Date of access.

Female Medical College of Pennsylvania--Students

Women in medicine

Female Medical College of Pennsylvania--Faculty

Philadelphia (Pa.)