Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Newspaper clipping from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin describing the events of November 6, 1869, when group of 20-30 female students from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP), went to the Pennsylvania Hospital amphitheater to attend a clinical lecture also attended by several hundred male medical students.

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Pioneers in the Face of Adversity “The Mob of ‘69”

In the 19th century, medical students would attend classes called clinical lectures to learn about how to treat sick people.  At a clinical lecture, a doctor and patient would appear onstage in an auditorium, and the doctor would show the student audience the patient’s illness or injury, and demonstrate how to heal or fix it.  The doctors would present patients with a range of illnesses from broken legs to pneumonia and everything in between. Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) was started in 1850 because most medical schools around the country would not accept female students.  WMCP was the only medical school for women in Philadelphia, and for many years one of the only medical schools for women in the nation. Almost 20 years later, in 1869, the number of female medical students and female doctors was still very small compared the number of male medical student and doctors. On November 6, 1869, a group of about 20-30 female students from WMCP, went to the Pennsylvania Hospital amphitheater to attend a clinical lecture also attended by several hundred male medical students. Their attendance drew a strong response from the male students, including jeering, and created a controversial debate about women's presence in the clinical lectures. The Jeering incident and ensuing debate were widely covered in regional newspapers. This event came to be known among students, faculty, and alumnae of WMPC as the “The Jeering Episode.”

Though Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania had been training women to be doctors since 1850, in 1869 many male medical students were still opposed to female students attending clinical lectures with them. The author of this newspaper article describes the “Jeering Episode” that took place at Pennsylvania Hospital in November 1869.

Language: english

Item Number: a133_054_020

Pages: 83

Size: 14x22.5

Physical Collection: Records of Administrative Departments: Public relations 1854-1984 (ACC-133), ACC-133

Finding Aid: archives.drexelmed.edu/collect/inventories/a133_inventory.pdf

Link to OPAC Record: http://innopac.library.drexel.edu/search/c?SEARCH=ACC-133

Cite this source: Title of document, date. Pioneers in the Face of Adversity: The Mob of ‘69. 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. http://lcdc.library.drexel.edu/islandora/object/islandora:1347

Women medical students

Sex discrimination in medical education

Coeducation

Medical colleges --- Pennsylvania—Philadelphia – History

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania - Students

Philadelphia (Pa.)