Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Photo taken at the refugee camps on the island of Macronissi, Greece after the evacuation of Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey.

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“Millions of refugees, almost totally without men”: The American Women’s Hospitals and the Fire of Smyrna

Although the Allied countries did not permit women to serve as officers in the military medical corps, there was a desperate need for doctors in the wake of World War I. The desire to advance women in the medical profession and to relieve those suffering in post-war conditions prompted American women physicians to form the first American Women’s Hospital in France in 1918. The American Women’s Hospitals (AWH) was founded to provide medical care to the people of war-torn France during World War I, and subsequently established hospitals in other parts of Europe, continuing to provide medical care to devastated populations after wars and conflicts had officially ended.

In 1922, the American Women's Hospitals (AWH) established services on Macronissi to care for the refugees from Smyrna. The organization photographed the refugee situation in order to document the severity and scope of the crisis, and the AWH’s role in alleviating it. Photographs like this one were often later published in brochures created by the AWH to raise money to continue their work. The photograph illustrates the vast number of women and children refugees. AWH published photographs like this to raise awareness in America about what was happening, and to appeal for more money and support to continue their work among the refugees and improve conditions.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_187

Pages: 1

Size: 8.3 x 13.2cm

Physical Collection: Records of American Women`s Hospitals 1917-1982, ACC-144

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. The American Women’s Hospitals and the Fire of Smyrna: Millions of refugees, almost totally without men. 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.

Women physicans

American Women's Hospitals

Women's health services

Missionaries, Medical- Turkey



Macronissi (Makronisos), Greece

New York (NY)