Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What about the Women? A Brief History of Female Physicians in Buffalo, New York

Sketch by Robert Higgins

There's no harm in telling you that in the third book of the Orphans and Inmates series (as yet untitled) Martha, the youngest of the Sloane sisters, becomes a doctor.  As I researched the history of female physicians in Buffalo, New York, during the nineteenth century, I found that, once again, I needed to stretch the truth a bit to tell Martha's story.

My third novel takes place in Buffalo during the cholera pandemic of 1849.  However, it was not until 1874 that Mary Blair Moody, the first female student, was accepted to the Medical Department at the University of Buffalo.  There was nothing in the charter that denied female students admission and so there were no special petitions to allow her to attend.  Dr. Moody practiced in Buffalo for several years before moving to Connecticut. 

 Interestingly UB was among the first medical schools to accept women.  Niagara University did not accept women into their medical school until 1892.  Between 1874 and 1896 fifty-six women received medical degrees from the University of Buffalo. Among them was Dr. Jane Wall Carroll.  Dr. Carroll graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1891 at the age of 43.  Among her 10 children, daughter Evangeline Carroll received her medical degree from the same institution in 1893. 

Female physicians also found their way into the asylums of Buffalo. Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Harriett A. Townsend, President of the Women's Union, a law was passed in April of 1890 allowing female physicians to practice at State hospitals for the insane.  The first physician appointed under this law was Dr. Eleanor McAllister, a graduate of Syracuse University.  Dr. McAllister was placed on the medical staff of the Buffalo State Hospital.  Maude Josephine Frye, M.D., another graduate of the University of Buffalo, served for a time in the Infant's Ward at the Erie County Hospital, which was a part of the Erie County Poorhouse.

So, there are some extraordinary role models to keep in mind as the story of Martha Sloane unravels.  I have no doubt she will be able to hold her own along side these pioneering women of medicine.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Past and Present, a Guest blog by Traci Lawrence

I am always grateful when a person enjoys my blog enough to leave a question or comment.  However, I consider it a compliment of the highest order when a reader thinks enough of the topic to ponder it in the context of a larger picture.  Traci Lawrence, author of Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds, and regular reader of my blog did just that.  Traci also writes often about how we as a society treat those who are different from us in her blog, Daily Musings.  Today I am pleased to offer you her unique insights on our social journey from the nineteenth century.  Enjoy!

This is the information age. Immediate worldwide news is at our fingertips. Technology is advancing so quickly, it’s hard to keep track. I’m sure contemporaries of The Industrial Revolution (of the 1800’s) were amazed by the proliferation of inventions, such as:

The Telephone
The Automobile
Steel and Iron
Humongous factories fueled by new machines
Mass transportation connecting opposite sides of the country

We’ve come a long way! Comparing our advances today is similar to relating the Mario Brothers games of the 1990’s to Sims 4:
Preset gaming levels—randomly generated world
Small (virtual) play area—huge (virtual) universe of play
Closed gaming world—completely interactive gaming world
Uncomplicated software—professionally computer-engineered software, including calculators and computers

Those are a few examples of how technology has become bigger in capacity, faster, brighter, clearer, smarter, and more interactive. That’s just in the past 3 ½ decades! Watch for publicly accessible virtual reality in the coming decade!

Does our intelligence match our technological advances?
I’d like to look at both sides of that coin:

Example:Disease and Poverty
Mankind has learned much since the mid-1800s, and the days of the Buffalo, New York, Poorhouse. We don’t isolate people with certain limitations in the same manner as before. In addition, we know the cause of certain diseases, such as cholera. That’s why many illnesses have been eradicated in developed countries. Everyone understands the importance of sanitation, plumbing, and adequate medical care.
In summary, it’s safe to say the non-technological sciences have also progressed in leaps in bounds. The proof is in the lesser amount of fatal contagious diseases in many areas.

Example: Baltimore, Maryland
The recent riots in Baltimore were a repeat of the 1968 uprisings following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. The same neighborhood was nearly destroyed 47 years ago. Hordes of volunteers are cleaning up some of the identical streets and buildings their grandparents may have walked. Political issues aside, have we learned nothing in 47 years?

My Conclusion

Recent advances in technology show mankind is moving forward at breakneck speed. On the other hand, there are ways in which we haven’t changed. Humans don’t seem to learn from some of our past mistakes; we’re stubborn. That’s why history repeats itself. This happened with the Israelites in the Bible, the Western European nations as their empires began shrinking, and the list goes on.
Will future generations be willing to learn from our mistakes?

Traci Lawrence writes about her passion: communication, relationships, the value of individuals, and rising above verbal bullying (trash talk). She lives in the Northern Virginia area of the United States and teaches English, among other subjects.  Please find more on her blog, and view her book: Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds