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The Legacy Center Blog

International Conference of Women Physicians, 1919 (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

We Are Not Coexisting but Existing Together: 100 Years of Medical Women's International Association

Drexel University College of Medicine's Legacy Center houses the records of the Medical Women's International Association (MWIA) which features minutes, member information, history of the organization and ephemera. This blog post commemorates the centennial of MWIA and its origins during the Great War, when a group of women physicians discovered a need to have an organization to connect female physicians from around the world.

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Elizabeth Clark to Ada Peirce McCormick pet nam Dearest Pie-faced Angel-child

Deep bonds and intimate friendships: Letters to Ada Pierce McCormick

The Ada Peirce McCormick papers at the Drexel College of Medicine's Legacy Center is made up largely of personal correspondence; namely, the letters she received from her friends Dr. Emma Elizabeth Musson and Dr. Elizabeth Clark over the course of 40 years, beginning in 1908. This blog post describes how the collection reflects the deep bonds and intimate friendships that can be maintained even through correspondence.

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Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss on the cover of the October 1944 edition of Medical Women’s Journal (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

Birth Control, Sex Education, and Eugenic Feminism: The Peculiar Activism of Women Physicians

Eugenic feminism was a movement that overlapped with the social hygiene movement, women's suffrage and the birth control movement, and explores the intersections of how women are responsible in making the right decisions for the better of the race. This blog post explores how women physicians' language used in the social hygiene movements were influenced by the eugenics movement, even though their ideology wasn't the same.

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Elizabeth Cisney Smith and Augustus Edwin Smith around the time of their marriage, 1903 (Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

Tea at the Turn of the Century: Exploring Small Town Life with Elizabeth Cisney Smith

The Isabel Smith Stein collection on Elizabeth Cisney Smith explores the life of Dr. Elizabeth Cisney Smith, a 1911 graduate of Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. The collection includes school materials, diaries, memoirs, medical practice records, personal correspondence, photographs, audio recordings, and other writing and research related to Dr. Smith, most notably connected to her work in the suffrage movement. Much of the correspondence is between Dr. Smith and her husband, Edwin. This blog post explores one particular letter Dr. Smith sent to Edwin during the spring of 1901 regarding the affordability of bulk tea in a small town.

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Dr. Eleanor Way-Allen calling card.

Visiting Friends: Encounters in the Alumnae Files

The Alumnae Files of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania are files that track the graduates of the college throughout their careers, including their personal lives. Though many of the files may only contain an obituary, others can be filled with articles and letters about an individual’s life collected intentionally or by chance. This blog post explores when and how we use the Alumnae Files and the rewarding (and sometimes emotionally taxing) work that goes with it.

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The complete nervous system dissection known as “Harriet” (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

Dissecting Harriet Cole: Uncovering Women's History in the Archives

Harriet is a complete dissection of the cerebrospinal nervous system, dissected and mounted in 1888 by anatomist Dr. Rufus Weaver of Hahnemann Medical College. In the blog post the author attempts to use the Legacy Center collections and outside sources to uncover and document any concrete information about the living Harriet.

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Doris Bartuska, MD circa 1987 (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

The Story of Dr. Doris Bartuska: Sexism in Medicine during the 1950s to 1980s

The Doris Bartuska papers contain the work of Dr. Doris Bartuska, a 1954 graduate of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, in the field of medicine and beyond. This blog post explores Dr. Bartuska's time as a physician from the 1950s to the 1980s, her experience with sexism, and the barriers she broke in a male dominated sphere.

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Dorothee Gold document (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)


Doris Phillips Wheeler was a 1941 Austrian graduate from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania who began medical school during the Third Reich. This blog post explores how archives are places where lost stories and new insights can be found, such as that of Doris Phillips Wheelers life in coming to America before a major war broke out in her homeland.

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Medical Women’s International Association Fourth Congress, 1937 (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

Modern Miracle Women: Dr. Catharine Macfarlane a Leader in the Fight Against Cancer

Dr. Catharine Macfarlane was a pioneer in cancer research in determining that yearly exams were necessary in finding cancer in the early stages. This blog explores her journey from the 4th Congress of the Medical Women's International Association in Scotland to opening the first cancer prevention clinic in America which attracted both medical professionals and laypeople.

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