Writing Women into Medical History in the 1930s: Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead and “Medical Women” of the Past and Present


Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead (1867–1941), a leader among second-generation women physicians in America, became a pioneer historian of women in medicine in the 1930s. The coalescence of events in her personal life, the declining status of women in medicine, and the growing significance of the new and relatively open field of history of medicine all contributed to this transformation in her career. While she endeavored to become part of the community of male physicians who wrote medical history, her primary identity remained that of a “medical woman.” For Hurd-Mead, the history of women in the past not only filled a vital gap in scholarship but served practical ends that she had earlier pursued by other means—those of inspiring and advancing the careers of women physicians of the present day, promoting organizations of women physicians, and advocating for equality of opportunity in the medical profession.