Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

Portrait of Fanny Fern, newspaper journalist.

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

Fanny Fern was an American newspaper columnist, humorist, novelist, and author of children's stories in the 1850s-1870s. Fern's great popularity has been attributed to her conversational style and sense of what mattered to her mostly middle-class female readers. By 1855, Fern was the highest-paid columnist in the United States, commanding $100 per week for her New York Ledger column.

Because the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later known as the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania) was the first degree-granting medical school exclusively for women, it attracted national attention. Many newspapers all over the country printed news about the women medical students and doctors because they were so rare. Even four years after the founding of the Female Medical College, opinions about women physicians published in newspapers varied significantly, and even women authors were not necessarily supportive of the idea of women doctors. Fanny Fern was the author of one such article.

Creator: Artist unknown

Publisher: G.W. Carleton & Co.

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.

Fern, Fanny, 1811-1872

Parton, Sara Payson Willis, 1811-1872

Women physicians