Skip Navigation

Visit our Libraries - Young, Hillyer & Josten. Request books online - delivery is fast! Learn more

Today's Hours

Contact Us

Libraries' Service Desk

Call 413-585-2910

Monday to Friday
10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Medicine & Health Fields

Selected Primary Sources in the Sophia Smith Collection

Cheri Appel
Oral history
.25 linear ft. (1 box)
Physician; Birth control advocate. Interview conducted by Ellen Chesler in 1989. Includes tape and transcript.
View finding aid

Clara Barton (1821-1912)
Papers, 1822-1982
4 linear ft. (12 boxes)
Civil War nurse; founder and president of American National Red Cross; and organizer of the International Red Cross. The collection includes journals, printed material, and correspondence documenting Barton's early efforts to become a nurse and enter relief work; her Civil War experiences; and her crusade to establish the National American and the International Red Cross.
View finding aid

Blackwell Family
These papers contain diaries, correspondence, speeches, and writings of Elizabeth Blackwell (l82l-l9l0), the first woman to receive an M.D. They document her struggle to open the medical profession to women in the United States. There are also diaries and correspondence of Emily Blackwell (1826- 1910), physician and co-founder of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. (Original papers at Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.) [See Microfilm M2]

Louise Stevens Bryant (1885-1956)
Papers, 1885-1956
7 linear ft. (14 boxes)
Public health specialist in maternal and children's health services; Editor; Publicist. The papers of Louise Stevens Bryant contain Bryant's writings, which include diaries, notebooks, and professional reports concerning public health and social work issues; subject files; and correspondence, including correspondence from Havelock Ellis and others generated from Bryant's work arranging the U.S. publication of Ellis's Studies in the Psychology of Sex. There is also a typescript biography of Bryant written by her companion, Lura Beam, and excerpts from their correspondence.
View finding aid

Dorothea de Schweinitz and Louise de Schweinitz Darrow
Papers, 1912-1997
3.5 linear ft. (4 boxes)
Louise de Schweinitz Darrow (1898-1997; Smith class 1918), physician and birth control advocate; studied at Columbia University; M.D. and Johns Hopkins Medical School; practiced medicine at Yale University and community health at Well Baby Clinics in New Haven, Connecticut, and children's rehabilitation unit, University of Kansas Medical Center. Her papers include letters to her parents (1933-41) and her children (1967-91) and two diaries (1912, 1914). Also included are the papers of her sister, Dorothea (1891-1980; Smith 1912), social worker and labor researcher.
View finding aid

Fosdick Family
Papers, 1915-1997 (ongoing)
5 linear ft. (4 boxes)
Includes papers of Elinor Fosdick Downs, Pediatrician (Smith class 1933): scrapbook and correspondence about her childhood plus materials about her medical and public health career, marriage, and slides, notes and copies of her 1961 study of Arab refugees.
[Note: This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.]

Ruth V. Hemenway (1894-1974)
Papers, 1924-1979
1.25 linear ft. (4 boxes)
Medical missionary; Teacher; Physician. Biographical material and twenty diaries (1924-41), which provide a detailed record of Hemenway's eighteen years as a medical missionary in China, with photographs and drawings. They describe medical and surgical cases, customs and rural culture, and the political upheaval of pre-war China. The diaries have been indexed by Hemenway and excerpts have been published in Ruth V. Hemenway, M.D.: A Memoir of Revolutionary China, 1924-1941, ed. Fred W. Drake (1977).
View finding aid

Hunt Family
Papers, 1841-1903
.25 linear ft. (1 box)
Mary Olive Hunt, Physician; Suffragist. This small collection of the Hunt Family includes professional records, correspondence, articles and newspaper clippings pertaining to Dr. Mary Olive Hunt's training and career as a physician in Manchester, New Hampshire, circa 1860s-1890s. There are also two letters to Dr. Hunt from suffragist Lucy Stone.
View finding aid

Bertha F. Johnson
Papers, 1879-1957
.5 linear ft. (1 box)
Physician. Bertha F. Johnson graduated from medical school in 1905, was married to a farmer. This small collection includes letters to Sophia Smith Collection Director Margaret Grierson from Dr. Bertha Johnson (circa 1949-57) and reminiscences of her professional life.
View finding aid

Margaret Long (1873-1957)
Papers, 1893-1954
1 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Physician (Smith class 1895). The papers include correspondence and journals (1897-1907), which include the years Long was a medical student at Johns Hopkins Medical School with Dorothy Reed Mendenhall and Florence Sabin (see below). Reed, Sabin, and Long came to distinguish themselves as graduates of the new medical school and pioneer researchers and activists in medicine and public health. Long received her M.D. in 1903, and became active in the fight against tuberculosis in the Denver, Colorado area. In addition to her epidemiological research, she helped found the Sands House Sanatorium and served on its board for many years.
View finding aid

Medicine Collection
1826-1972 (ongoing)
4 linear ft. (9 boxes)
The Medicine Collection is comprised almost entirely of printed materials such as bibliographies, biographies, pamphlets, and articles pertaining to women in all fields of medicine. Materials on women physicians, nurses, and medical missionaries include mostly biographical information about individuals such as Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, Edith Cavell, Alice Hamilton, Mary Putnam Jacobi, Florence Nightingale, and Mary Walker. The Physicians section also includes files on countries other than the U.S. Files on women's hospital, colleges, and medical societies include primarily published material related to specific institutions in the U.S. and Great Britain. There are two boxes of bulletins from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania.
View finding aid

Dorothy Mabel Reed Mendenhall (1874-1964)
Papers, 1811-1988
7.5 linear ft. (20 boxes)
Public health specialist; Physician; Instructor (Smith class 1895). Papers focus on her pioneering contributions to the fields of pathology, public health, maternal and infant health, pediatrics, and nutrition, as well as early 20th century women's medical education. Mendenhall's time at Johns Hopkins Medical School is well represented. A manuscript autobiography (1886-1953) and letters describe her training and experience as one of the first women students at Johns Hopkins Medical School (1896-1902). Professional material documents her research on Hodgkin's disease; her work with the U.S. Children's Bureau through research materials, scientific sketches, writings, lecture notes, teaching materials, and memorabilia. Correspondence with associates and patients includes discussions of baby care, child nutrition, maternity, and prenatal care.
View finding aid
Dorothy Reed Mendenhall is also featured in National Library of Medicine's online exhibit: Changing the Face of Medicine

New England Hospital for Women and Children (1862-1969)
Records, 1792-1994
9.5 linear ft. (27 boxes)
Women's teaching hospital. This hospital was, for more than a century, a teaching hospital for women doctors and a place where women could receive treatment from them. It was the first hospital in Boston to offer obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics all in one facility. The administrative records, circa 1859-1955, include annual reports, correspondence and memoranda, financial papers, minutes, written histories, and photographs. Also application materials from women medical students such as letters, recommendations, and transcripts. The collection documents such topics as an 1888 controversy over abortion, using chloroform as an anesthetic, and African American nurses and interns.
See also the Changing the Face of Medicine exhibit at the National Library of Medicine's website for pages on Mary Putnam Jacobi and Marie E. Zakrzewska.
View finding aid

Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project
Oral Histories conducted 2002-05
.75 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Oral history interviews with individuals throughout the world who have made important contributions to the field of reproductive health and education. Interviewees include physicians, medical researchers, and public health specialists active in the historical period 1965-2005.

Beatrice Farnsworth Powers (1880-1967)
Papers, 1907-1966
.75 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Nurse; Medical missionary; Teacher. Biographical materials, notes, letters, photograph albums, and essays by Powers document her career at Dr. Wilfred Grenfell's Mission, Labrador (1912), and at Yale-in-China Hospital, Changsha, China (1913-1915). Of special interest are Powers' views on the status of Chinese women, the impact of missionaries on China, and reflections on Chinese society.
View finding aid

Edris Rice-Wray
Oral histories
.25 linear ft. (1 box)
Birth control advocate; Physician. Two oral histories, conducted in 1978 and 1987, document her long career as a public health physician, primarily in Central America and Mexico. Rice-Wray founded Mexico's first family planning clinic, in Mexico City.
View finding aid

Florence Rena Sabin (1871-1953)
Papers, 1872-1985
12.25 linear ft. (33 boxes)
Physician; Professor; Public health specialist (Smith class 1893). Papers include correspondence with colleagues involved in medicine, research, education, and humanitarian concerns. The papers also contain manuscript notes for numerous scientific studies, published articles, lecture notes, addresses, reports on her work with various organizations (notably the Rockefeller Institute, the National Tuberculosis Association, and the Colorado Public Health Commission), and research materials related to her scientific studies in histology, the lymphatic system, hematology, and tuberculosis. Some letters date from Sabin's early years at Johns Hopkins Medical School with fellow students Dorothy Reed Mendenhall and Margaret Long (see above).
View finding aid
Documents from the Florence Sabin Papers can be found online in the exhibit:
Profiles in Science on the National Library of Medicine Web site. She is also featured in NLM's online exhibit Changing the Face of Medicine

Adaline Pendleton Satterthwaite (1917-2005)
Papers, 1923-2003
16 linear ft. (33 boxes)
Physician; Birth control advocate. The Adaline Satterthwaite Papers include extensive correspondence, diaries, medical records and reports, photographs, writings, and subject files pertaining to Satterthwaite's career as a physician, birth control pioneer, and internationally renowned expert in family planning. The collection is rich in materials documenting Satterthwaite's work in family planning in Puerto Rico, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China.
View finding aid
See also Schlesinger-Rockefeller Oral History Project (below).

Schlesinger-Rockefeller Oral History Project
.25 linear ft. (1 box). The Schlesinger-Rockefeller oral history project documents women in health services, maternal and child care, family planning, marriage counseling, and sex education. Interviewees are: Mary Steichen Calderone, M.D.; Loraine Leeson Campbell; Florence Clothier, M.D.; Frances Hand Ferguson; Adaline Pendleton Satterthwaite, M.D. (see also Satterthwaite Papers, above).
(Original oral histories are at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University).

Alice Weld Tallant (1875-1958)
Papers, 1896-1958
.5 linear ft. (1 box)
Physician; Settlement house worker; Relief worker, World War I (Smith class 1897). Papers include a small amount of material related to her medical career after graduation from Johns Hopkins (1902), at Joy Settlement and St. Martha's House, Philadelphia; and more extensive documentation of her work in France during World War I, both as Director of Smith College Relief Unit, and later in a French Army Hospital.
View finding aid

Caroline Bedell Thomas (1904-1997)
Papers, 1917-1985
2.5 linear ft. (1 box)
Physician; Researcher; Professor (Smith class 1925). Best known for her research in heart disease, Dr. thomas maintained a private practice from 1938-1970. Papers include correspondence, published articles and newspaper clippings, and photographs. The bulk of the collection consists of family correspondence, including two spiral-bound volumes of privately published World War II letters between Thomas and her husband, as well as a series of letters between Thomas and Dorothy Dushkin.
[Note: This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.]
Caroline Bedell Thomas is also featured in National Library of Medicine's online exhibit: Changing the Face of Medicine.

Emma Elizabeth Walker (1864-1954)
Papers, 1899-1954
.5 linear ft. (1 box)
Physician; Children's author; Anti-suffragist; Birth control advocate; Public health advocate. Papers document her professional work, consisting primarily of writings and lectures, but also contain small amounts of biographical material and correspondence. In addition to documenting the work of a woman doctor at the turn of the century, the collection contains material relevant to women's health, the social and moral hygiene movements, turn-of-the century childrearing practices, and sexuality.
View finding aid

Hyla S. Watters (1893-1987)
Papers, 1892-1991
1.5 linear ft. (3 boxes)
Medical missionary; Physician. Served as a medical missionary in China (1924-48), Korea, and in Liberia (1950-61). Her papers include correspondence, diaries, autobiographical writings, an oral history, and memorabilia, documenting her time in college, medical school and internships, and her career as a medical missionary. (Selected portions published in Hyla Doc: Surgeon in China through War and Revolution, 1924-1949, edited by Elsie H. Landstrom.)
View finding aid

Jane C. Wright (1919- )
Papers, 1920-2003(ongoing)
19 linear ft. (22 boxes)
Oncologist (Smith class 1942), earned her M.D. from New York Medical College in 1945, completed internship and residencies at Bellevue and Harlem Hospitals, then worked at the Harlem Hospital Cancer Research Foundation while continuing her research at New York University-Bellevue Medical Center. She was Associate Dean of the New York Medical College (1967-75), the first women in the US to hold such a position at a medical school; and was professor of surgery there, 1975-87. She was also the first woman elected president of the New York Cancer Society (1971). Her papers include correspondence, clippings, photographs, awards, biographical articles, and professional writings documenting her work in cancer research.
[Note: This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.]
Jane Cooke Wright is also featured in National Library of Medicine's online exhibit: Changing the Face of Medicine.
View finding aid

Related Sources

The Sophia Smith Collection houses collections of many women's health and reproductive rights advocates and organizations including:

For a complete list, see our guide to Reproductive Rights and Women's Health.

The SSC also holds a number of collections of psychiatrists, clinical social workers (therapists), and other mental health professionals, which may be of interest. See our Social Work Archives guide which describes many of these collections, or contact the SSC for a complete list.

(Note: The SSC is actively collecting the papers and oral histories of women's health advocates and the records of their organizations, especially those documenting women of color. Please contact us for updated information on our holdings.)

See also the Women in Science guide.

For secondary sources, see the Browsing and Reference collections in the Special Collections Reading Room.

(Note: The SSC is actively collecting the papers and oral histories of women and the records of their organizations. Please see the complete list of collections or contact us for updated information on our holdings.)