At a time when most women could not vote or get a bank loan, Annie Lowrie Alexander, MD, an alumna of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, was a charter member — and became president — of the Mecklenburg County Medical Society. The first licensed female physician in North Carolina, Alexander opened her practice in Charlotte in 1887 and served the community for more than 40 years.
Alexander's trailblazing pursuits and public service were honored in December 2016 with the installation of a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker at 400 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, the site of her home and office.
"Dr. Annie," as she was known, was initially educated by her physician father. She graduated from Woman's Med in 1884.
Although her caseload was largely gynecology, obstetrics and early childhood diseases, Alexander treated a wide variety of illnesses. As president of the county medical society, she spearheaded a campaign against hookworm, which was prevalent in the South. During World War I, Charlotte was home to Camp Greene, a large training facility, and Alexander was designated a temporary first lieutenant and acting assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Alexander was physician to the Charlotte YMCA, students at Presbyterian College for Women and the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers. She served on the boards of many organizations, including two hospitals. She also wrote and presented a number of research papers.
Alexander never married but raised a boy born to an unwed mother at the Crittenton Home, and after the death of her brother in 1901, she raised his seven children as well.
* Still a role model, Alexander was nominated for the highway marker (see image above) by a high school student who had studied the doctor’s life for a prizewinning project in the annual North Carolina History Day competition.