Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Page from clipping scrapbooks with clipping from The North American Medical Review regarding Eliza Grier ["Clizo" Ann Grier]. Eliza Anna Grier was an African American woman who graduated from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1897.

Get the story...

Two Women, Two Paths

Eliza Grier was born into the last years of slavery in North Carolina in 1862. She went on work her way through Fisk University in Tennessee and then attended Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania on scholarship, graduating with her MD in 1897. In 1898, shortly after graduating Woman's Med, Grier was the first black woman licensed to practice medicine in the state of Georgia. She eventually set up a practice in Greenville, South Carolina, serving an impoverished community. Eliza Grier became a physician at a time when female physicians were relatively rare, and black female physicians were rarer still. African American women who wanted to gain admission to study medicine and become licensed practicing physicians faced double discrimination: gender and race.

This account of Grier's licensing to practice in the state of Georgia treats her accomplishment and ambition as a novelty, pointedly noting her "coal black" skin and describing her as a "woman of quick wit, speaking well and giving evidence of good education." The fact that Grier's licensing was considered newsworthy, and that this article was reprinted in multiple newspapers around the country, reflects just how rare African American woman physicians were in the late 19th century.

Item Number: a133_013

Pages: 1

Size: 27.5X21

Physical Collection: Records of Administrative Departments: Public relations 1854-1984 (ACC-133), ACC-133

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. Eliza Grier and Matilda Evans: Two Women, Two Paths. 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.

African American women physicians

Grier, Eliza Anna

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

Medical personnel -- Liscenses

North American Medical Review


Womens Medical College, North College Avenue, Philadelphia

Atlanta, GA