Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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A handwritten autobiography of Dr. Hannah Longshore, describing the challenges she faced in her early years of being a doctor.

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"Will you accept or reject them?" The First Female Medical College

Hannah Myers Longshore was a member of the first graduating class of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1852. Longshore was a member of a dedicated Quaker abolitionist family who also supported women’s rights. She married Thomas Longshore whose brother, Joseph, was a Philadelphia physician. She received tremendous support from both her husband and her brother-in-law in her desire to study medicine. In fact Joseph Longshore instructed Hannah before he became one of the founders of Female Medical College. Upon graduation Hannah Longshore faced tremendous discrimination despite the support of her family. Many doctors initially refused to consult with her, and pharmacists refused to fill her prescriptions. For a time, she had to prepare her own medicines by hand. Despite objections, Hannah Longshore offered a series of public lectures on physiology and hygiene, encouraged by women's rights leaders such as Lucretia Mott. Her practice also became successful despite the prejudice against her as a woman doctor.

The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania was the first medical school specifically established to grant degrees to women. It opened in 1850, and made it possible for women to formally train as doctors. While such a progressive step forward for women’s rights was praised by many people, there were others who were opposed to the idea of educating women and allowing them to practice as professional physicians. Hannah Longshore’s autobiography illustrates both the successes and struggles early women doctors experienced.

Creator: Longshore, Hannah, 1819-1901

Language: english

Item Number: a028_001

Pages: 14

Size: 26.4x19.9cm

Physical Collection: Papers of Longshore Family 1819-1902, ACC-028

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.

Longshore, Hannah, 1819-1901

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania--Alumni and alumnae

Women physicians--Biography

Philadelphia (Pa.)