Women and Homeopathy
As in any profession in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women in medicine
struggled for the right to formal education and recognition as professionals.
In 1850, the first medical school that granted to degrees to women opened in
Philadelphia under the name ‘Female Medical College of Pennsylvania.’ It was
followed shortly thereafter by the New England Female Medical College in
Boston, founded in 1856; New York Medical College and Hospital for Women in
1863; Chicago Women’s Hospital and College in 1870; and several others.
the same time period, the first homeopathic medical school in the United
States, the Allentown Academy, was opened in 1835 by Constantine Hering. By
1844, American homeopaths from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston had founded
the American Institute of Homeopathy. Soon to follow were the Homeopathic
Medical College of Pennsylvania (1848); Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago
(1855); New York Homeopathic Medical College (1859); Hahnemann Medical College
of Philadelphia (1867), which merged with the Homeopathic Medical College of
Pennsylvania in 1871; and the Detroit Homeopathic College (1872).
However, opportunities for women to train in homeopathic medicine were few and
far between. The New York Medical College and Hospital for Women (1863) and
the Woman’s Homeopathic College in Cleveland (1868) were two options for women
wishing to study homeopathy. In 1871, Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago
allowed women to matriculate. In 1874, the homeopathic Boston University
School of Medicine became the first co-educational medical school in New
England. However, in Philadelphia, women were not allowed admittance to either
the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania or Hahnemann Medical College
of Philadelphia. In 1865, women were allowed to sit in on the lectures at the
Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, but were not allowed to
matriculate and earn degrees. The question of permitting women to attend the
Philadelphia schools was debated several times in the late 1800s, although it
would not be until 1941 that women were admitted.
It was common practice for women in the early days of homeopathy to receive
medical degrees from schools such as the Woman’s Medical College of
Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) or New England Female Medical College (Boston),
and then move to Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, or Boston, where they could
receive formal training in homeopathic medicine.
Resources in our collections
(with some links to external online sources)
Contains photographs, newspaper clippings, and/or biographies of
approximately 150 women homeopaths up to 1918. Arranged alphabetically by
Vol. I: The History of Homeopathy: A history of homeopathy,
focused on the rise of homeopathy in the United States.
Vol. II and Vol. III: Homeopathic Institutions and
Societies: Includes essays about the Women’s Southern Homeopathic Hospital
and other homeopathic institutions.
Vol. IV: Homeopathic Physicians: Short biographies of
notable homeopathic physicians, including Elizabeth Baer, Mary Branson, and
Amelia Landis Hess.
Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College
Faculty, Board of Manager, and other committee minutes: 1867, 1868, 1886
Manuscripts and notes for the “History of Women in Medicine” sections of
Medical Woman’s Journal. Manuscript for “The Homeopathic Medical
College for Women; Cleveland, 1868-1870;” and biographical sketch notes on
homeopathic women physicians, including Lizzie Hendershott, Ida Catura
Coler, and Helen Parker.
An article written by a well-known female homeopath, giving reasons for the
admittance of women into medical colleges.
An editorial in favor of women being admitted to the medical, especially
Anne Taylor Kirschmann papers [PDF]
- abstract (Acc 2000.15) – “A Vital Force: Women Physicians and Patients in
American Homeopathy, 1850-1930
- Bound dissertation available on-site (WB 930 K61v 1999).
Kristin Mitchell papers [PDF]
- abstract (Acc 366)“Her Preference was to Heal’: Women’s Choice of
Homeopathic Medicine in the Nineteenth Century United States”
- Dissertation available on-site.
An Alternative Path: The Making and Remaking of Hahnemann
Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia. Rogers, Naomi. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1998. 56-58; 67.
Several pages discussing the admission of women to Hahnemann Medical
History of Nursing in Pennsylvania. West, Roberta Mayhew. Harrisburg,
PA: Evangelical Press, 1939. 875-880.
Brief articles on the Woman’s Southern Homeopathic Hospital and the Women’s
Homeopathic Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as other homeopathic
A brief article summarizing the history of women homeopaths in Philadelphia,
Brief information, including photographs, on the Woman’s Southern
Homeopathic Hospital (Philadelphia) and the Women’s Homeopathic Hospital of
Resources not held by the Legacy Center
An interactive timeline featuring many major practitioners, institutions,
and events in homeopathic history.
Brief biographies of notable female homeopathic physicians, including Jean
Isabel McKay-Gliddon, Mercy Ruggles Jackson Bisbee, and Mary Jane Safford.
Sartain Family papers, Sartain Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Contains the letter written in 1886 by Dean A.R. Thomas to the Women’s
Medical Club giving an explanation why women would not be admitted to
Hahnemann Medical College. This collection may or may not contain other
The article focuses on the admission of women homeopaths into medical
societies, particularly in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The Daily Evening Telegraph. [Philadelphia, PA] 9 June 1871: 8.
- From Library of Congress, Chronicling America.
The Evening Star. [Washington, D.C.] 12 June 1871: front page.
- From Library of Congress, Chronicling America.