Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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A published booklet containing a speech given by Dr. Joseph Longshore, a founder of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, on the occassion of the College’s opening in 1850.

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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 opportunity to formally train, and be recognized, as physicians. Female (later Woman’s) Medical College of Pennsylvania was founded in 1850 as the first degree-granting medical school exclusively for women. Dr Joseph Longshore, a Philadelphia area Quaker, supported anti-slavery, temperance, and women’s rights, and was one of the founders of Female Medical College. He had a difficult time in finding faculty members for the College because so many people were opposed to the idea. However, eventually Dr Longshore was successful (he became the Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women), and the Female Medical College began its first session in October, 1850. Hannah Longshore, Dr Longshore’s sister-in-law, was a member of the first graduating class.

Dr. Joseph Longshore was a supporter of many reform movements, including women’s rights. His sister-in-law, Hannah, desired to study and practice medicine; he encouraged her to do so, and she worked as his apprentice before becoming a member of the first class of Female Medical College of Pennsylvania. Female Medical College was the first medical school in the United States founded exclusively to train women as physicians and grant them medical degrees. It was founded, funded, and staffed by a group of reform-minded, predominately Quaker men (including Joseph Longshore). This community of men who supported women's right to education and professional careers were essential to the early success of Female Medical College.

Creator: Longshore, J. S. (Joseph Skelton), 1809-1879

Contributor: Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania

Language: english

Item Number: a005_001

Pages: 29

Size: 21.5 x 18.5

Physical Collection: Records of WMC/MCP Speeches and addresses, 1850-1991, ACC-005

Finding Aid:

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.

Medical colleges--Faculty

Occasional speeches

Women medical students

Women physicians

Sex discrimination in medicine

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania--History

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia (Pa.)