Joanne Murray, historian and director of Drexel's Legacy Center
"The fact that AMWA is honoring the Center for its exceptional service tells us that we are doing a good job," says Joanne Murray, historian and director of Drexel's Legacy Center. "Winning the Camille Mermod Award will help to bring attention to the unique collections found at the Legacy Center."
Murray adds that the award is "especially appreciated because AMWA truly understands the value of their own history and frequently refers to the organization's past as they move forward with new initiatives."
Founded in 1915, AMWA is the oldest multi-specialty organization of women physicians. As the vision and voice of women in medicine for over a century, AMWA aims to empower women to lead in improving health for all, within a model that reflects the unique perspectives of women.
AMWA Executive Director Eliza Chin, MD, MPH, nominated the Legacy Center in recognition of the work the Center has done for the organization.
"The Legacy Center has organized and catalogued all of AMWA's materials, dating back to 1915, digitalized many of the photographs in the collection, and created introductory videos and teaching aids to introduce the history of AMWA and the American Women's Hospitals Service (AWHS) to a wider audience," she says. "They have been incredibly responsive to any AMWA needs—providing database expertise, digital scans and on-site research access whenever needed."
Additionally, Dr. Chin notes, "The Legacy Center archivists have been especially helpful in the preparation of AMWA's Centennial Book, the upcoming AWHS Centennial Book, the AMWA film on Women Physicians in World War I, and the upcoming Medical Women's International Association (MWIA) Centennial. The Legacy Center has also provided the only public display of AMWA materials and artifacts in a special lobby exhibit."
Murray explains, "The Legacy Center is proud to be the steward of AMWA's collection reflecting its 103-year-old history, as well as that of a related organization, the American Women's Hospitals Service, which is nearly as old. These collections are among the most often requested, given the important and far-reaching work that they document. The Center works with researchers worldwide, from young students to scholars to lifelong learners, to provide access and offer support, while also caring for the materials. AMWA is grateful for what we provide as a necessary step for scholars and other researchers as they seek to learn more about the roles of women physicians in history."
In addition to the AMWA and AWHS collection, the Legacy Center collects and preserves the records of Drexel University College of Medicine's predecessor institution, the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first degree-granting medical school in the world for women. Papers of individual women in medicine and related organizations make up the special collections. Combined, all of these records and papers document the history of women in medicine from the mid-nineteenth century forward.
"Our work in collecting and preserving these materials, and in making them discoverable and accessible for interpretation, helps AMWA's members learn about themselves, and also supports work internationally that includes the perspective of women physicians," says Murray. "AMWA recognizes the importance of sharing the stories of women physicians—stories that might otherwise disappear."