Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Loading the Internet Archive BookReader, please wait...

Illustrated pamphlet printed by the United States Department of Agriculture that provides nutritional information, specifically the types of foods to eat to prevent Pellagra. Pellagra is a disease resulting from malnutrition that was common in Appalachia in the 1930s.

Get the story...

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 met the geographic and public health challenges of Appalachia through a holistic approach that went beyond medication and mass vaccinations and inoculations. The AWH, with the help of the local community, displayed educational information in public places, presented educational lectures, built clean and safe latrines and wells, promoted maternal health, and launched an aggressive nutrition education campaign. Although printed by the U. S. government, this pamphlet, with its engaging illustrations and clear, simple language represents the type literature the AWH distributed in the community in attempt to educate residents about healthy foods and their role in preventing disease.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_204

Pages: 4

Size: 10 x 15.7 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



Rural health services

Appalachian Region, Southern