Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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Document establishing the American Female Medical Education Society, which was created to fund the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, or WMCP). The Constitution describes why the Society was formed and how it would operate.

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"Will you accept or reject them?" The First Female Medical College

Prior to 1850, women practiced medicine in their communities and worked as nurses and midwives, but had no opportunities to formally train, and be recognized, as physicians. In 1850, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania was founded; it was the first medical school in the nation and the world to train women as physicians. In its first two years, the WMCP's faculty had funded the college's operations, and the school was not financially secure. Additionally, many qualified students could not afford the tuition fees. The AFME Society was formed to ensure a reliable source of funds for the school and financial aid for its students by charging membership fees that would go toward sustaining WMCP.

The officers and directors of the AFME Society included prominent male and female physicians, educators, and clergy. Among the signatories were noted education reformer Horace Mann, abolitionist and reformer Lucretia Mott, Dr. Joseph Longshore, one of the founding faculty members of WMCP, his brother Dr. Thomas Longshore, and Thomas's wife, Dr. Hannah Longshore, who was in WMCP's first from the first graduating class. In addition to creating a membership-fee structure to financially support the Female Medical College, the creation of the American Female Medical Education society demonstrated the support of the medical and educational community and other leading citizens for the sustained education and employment of women physicians. In the years following the founding of WMCP, several other medical school for women were established, including the New England Female Medical College (founded in 1856) and Women's College of The New York Infirmary (1865). In 1849, there was one woman MD in the nation, and by 1860 there were 200. This increase would have been impossible without schools like WMCP and supporters and faculty of both genders.

Creator: American Female Medical Education Society

Language: english

Item Number: a090_002

Pages: 2

Size: 17 x 25cm

Physical Collection: Materials Related to Women`s Medical Schools (ACC-090), ACC-090

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. The First Female Medical College: Will you accept or reject them?. 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.

Medical colleges

Medical education

Women--Education (Higher)

Philadelphia (Pa.)