Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Dr. Mabel Elliott, a physician with the American Women’s Hospitals reports from Athens, Greece on the services provided to Turkish refugees from the city of Smyrna, following the burning of Smyrna in September 1922.

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“Millions of refugees, almost totally without men”: The American Women’s Hospitals and the Fire of Smyrna

Although the Allied countries did not permit women to serve as military doctors, there was a desperate need for them in the wake of World War I. The desire to advance women in the medical profession and to relieve those suffering in post-war conditions prompted American women physicians to form the first American Women’s Hospital in France in 1918. The American Women’s Hospitals (AWH) was founded by to provide medical care to the people of war-torn France during World War I, and subsequently established hospitals in other parts of Europe, continuing to provide medical care to devastated populations after wars and conflicts had officially ended.

In 1922, the women of the AWH were among the first aid groups to establish emergency services on the Greek island of Macronissi to care for the refugees who fled the burning city of Smyrna. Dr. Mabel Elliott uses strong language to describe the scale and severity of deprivation affecting the refugees on the island, and to make the case that more Americans also need to get involved to alleviate the suffering. She explains that the AWH is providing medical care to an ever-increasing number of homeless and hungry refugees, almost all women and children, and that many other resources are needed besides medical care if they are to survive. Macronissi had no existing sources of food, shelter, water, or medical care, and the AWH could not provide all of these on its own.

Creator: Elliott, Mabel Evelyn, b. 1881

Contributor: American Women's Hospitals

Language: english

Item Number: a144_136

Pages: 1

Size: 21.59 x 27.94cm

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 and the Fire of Smyrna: Millions of refugees, almost totally without men. 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

Missionaries, Medical- Turkey

Izmir (Turkey), Nineteen twenties, -- Refugees

Women physicans

World War I

Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey

Macronissi (Makronisos), Greece

New York (NY)