Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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Pamphlet created by the American Women’s Hospitals highlighting their work around the world, including Greece, Albania, Greece, India, and the southern United States, and appealing for contributions. 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 makes it a point to compare the conditions of the refugee communities around the world with the conditions of the rural American south. The young twin boys and the family depicted on the rural health service page are described as “not refugees in a foreign country, but Americans suffering from diseases due to malnutrition,” By emphasizing the similarities between these two populations --American citizens of the Appalachian region and refugees of war-torn foreign nations-- the AWH highlights the common effects of malnutrition, poverty, and disease. The AWH pamphlet also points out the differences between the two groups: the people of Appalachia are citizens of the United States, , described as worthy of “membership in the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution,” and are not refugees from an impoverished, war-torn country. In doing so the AWH makes a case for asking for donations to continue their important work to eradicate disease and improve the quality of life for these Americans, citizens of one of the richest nation on earth.

Creator: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_206

Pages: 4

Size: 17.9 x 21cm

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


Child welfare

Rural health services




Appalachian Region, Southern