War Effort at WMCP
World War I (1914-1918) had thrown the world into chaos. Changes in modern warfare caused rampant destruction forcing the divergence of medical resources from the homefront to the frontlines. Male physicians went to the battlefields to care for wounded soldiers, leaving civilians with limited medical attention. By 1915, the need for women physicians was imperative, prompting many women medical societies to take action.
Philadelphia’s Evening Ledger, June 4, 1915: “Members of the Woman’s Medical College Alumnae Association, now in session, are planning to send aid to war-brides in Belgium and in Paris. The lack of maternity hospitals on the Continent is already being felt, and the Alumnae proposes, if practicable, to send a unit of women doctors from the association.”
At the Fortieth Annual Alumnae Association meeting held on June 4, 1915, Dr. Harriet L. Hartley moved a motion to start a hospital in France. Hungarian-born Dr. Telkes spoke to members of the association about her experiences in war-torn France. She appealed to all alumnae members to send women doctors where the French needed them most.
“We would like to take up some medical work abroad and we owe it to the College that some of her representatives be there. As the scheme unfolds itself we find a great many of our number anxious to go and take part. At least twenty have expressed to us in the past two days their desire to go … I would like to move that a committee be appointed to investigate medical conditions abroad and decide where we are most needed, to consider candidates for the work, and to appoint those the committee may find most efficient, to raise money and use the same for that work.”
Dr. Harriet L. Hartley, page 118, June 4, 1915.
“I am glad I came to Philadelphia today and see so many lady doctors as I really never saw before in my life. Abroad we don’t see these meetings yet, though the women physicians are admitted there. One of the doctors in New York said I must not talk to the students of the other sex because they would not think so much of me. I am not used to such things. In France and Europe women have a great work to do. They are admitted everywhere and do work with men.”
Dr. de Telkes, page 119, June 4, 1915.
Transactions of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, pg. 118-121.
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