Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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Pamphlet created by the American Women’s Hospitals (AWH) highlighting their work around the world, including Greece, Albania, Greece, India, and the southern United States, and appealing for contributions. Features a reprint of a 1932 New York Times article about the AWH’s rural health service work in the Spartanburg County, South Carolina, where deaths from pellagra were cut in half in two years. Four pages. Illustrated with photographs.

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The American Women’s Hospitals at Home: Public Health in Depression-Era Appalachia

The American Women’s Hospitals (AWH) was founded by women physicians in 1918 to provide medical care to the people of war-torn France during World War I. AWH subsequently established hospitals in other parts of Europe and Western Asia, continuing to provide medical care to devastated populations after the wars and conflicts had officially ended. In the 1930s, the AWH established itself in the rural, mountainous, Southern Highlands of the United States, in a region known today as Appalachia. Even before the Depression, Appalachia was a relatively impoverished region, and was geographically isolated with few roads or means of transportation in or out of the area. The economic crisis of the Great Depression only increased the severity of the region’s existing poverty and lack of quality education and healthcare. The AWH established a mobile health clinic, and launched a wide-ranging/multi-faceted public health and health education program in Appalachia to combat the region’s rampant health problems, which included malnutrition-related diseases (such as Pellagra) and highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis, and diphtheria.

The AWH reprinted the New York Times article “Win Fight on Pellagra: Medical Unit at Spartanburg County Reduces Deaths by One-half.” The 1932 article reports on the successful efforts of the AWH to fight pellagra in Spartanburg County, where the disease was widespread and often fatal. By printing this article from a respected national news source such as the Times, the AWH built credibility and hoped to gain more financial support for their work in in the rural Southern United States.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_203

Pages: 4

Size: 10.1 x 17.3 cm

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 at Home: Public Health in Depression-Era Appalachia. 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.

American Women's Hospitals


Women's health services


Child welfare


Rural health services

Spartanburg, SC