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Women Doctors in War

By Judith Bellafaire and Mercedes Herrera Graf

Publication Year: 2009

In their efforts to utilize their medical skills and training in the service of their country, women physicians fought not one but two male-dominated professional hierarchies: the medical and the military establishments. In the process, they also contended with powerful social pressures and constraints. Throughout Women Doctors in War, the authors focus on the medical careers, aspirations, and struggles of individual women, using personal stories to illustrate the unique professional and personal challenges female military physicians have faced. Military and medical historians and scholars in women’s studies will discover a wealth of new information in Women Doctors in War.  

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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Illustrations and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

In piecing together the service of women doctors in various wars, we received generous help from a number of sources and individuals. Indeed, the assistance of colleagues, friends, researchers and professionals in the military, archival, and library fields was of invaluable help in the course of researching and writing this book. ...

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pp. 1-6

Women have been practicing the healing arts since the earliest times. Aboriginal peoples everywhere recognized women’s skills as healers, obstetricians, and bonesetters.1 Similarly, wounds sustained in battle have been treated by women throughout history. In seventeenth century North America, a Mrs. Allyn served as an army surgeon during King ...

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Chapter 1. Hen Medics: Women Physicians in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War

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pp. 7-31

Even before Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell approached the women who clustered at the corner, she guessed what would happen. And sadly she was right again. Th e ladies picked up their hems, swished their skirts in the opposite direction, and averted their gazes away from this anomaly, a woman doctor, who dared masquerade as one of them. They could neither understand nor forgive a member of their sex being proud of having a medical degree from Geneva Medical School in 1849 or her pride in being the first ...

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Chapter 2. Necessity's Handmaidens: The Army’s Women Contract Surgeons of World War I

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pp. 32-60

When the young Julia Stimson graduated from Vassar College in 1901, she thought she might like to become a doctor. Testing the waters, she took graduate courses in biology and medical drawing at Columbia University and worked part-time as a medical illustrator and slide colorist at Cornell University Medical Center. Stimson’s parents did not want her to become a physician, however, believing it was not a suitable occupation for well-bred young women. They managed to dissuade their daughter ...

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Chapter 3. Finding A Place In The Sun: Women Army Doctors in World War II

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pp. 61-95

While the period between World War I and World War II was short, many things changed for female physicians. The 1920s offered great promise for them, especially with the ratification of the woman’s suffrage amendment in 1920. By 1925 nearly 48 percent of women physicians belonged to the American Medical Association (AMA) as compared to the 8 ...

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Chapter 4. Join The Navy And See The World: Women Navy Doctors in World War II

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pp. 96-111

Women doctors will be accepted in the Navy Medical Corps with the Women served unofficially or in connection with the navy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but not until the twentieth century did they play a significant role. The early story of women in the navy includes their service in the Navy Nurse Corps, established in 1908, and the yeomen (F) program in 1917. The Naval Appropriations Act of 1916 had conspicuously omitted mention of gender as a condition for service, lead- ...

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Chapter 5. Out Of Place: Women Military Doctors in Cold War America

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pp. 112-153

With the end of World War II, Americans were eager to return to peacetime, and although they hoped for economic prosperity, they feared another depression. Now that the wartime emergency was over, women were encouraged to return to their homes so that men could find jobs and support their families. As the armed forces demobilized, former servicewomen were expected to get married and start families. The vast majority of uniformed women physicians were automatically and arbitrarily ...

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Chapter 6. On the Edge of Equality: Contemporary Women Military Physicians

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pp. 154-199

The establishment of the All-Volunteer Force and the end of the Berry Plan set the stage for a new era in military medicine. The armed services now had to compete directly with the civilian sector for newly trained physicians. What could the services do to attract talented young doctors into the medical corps of the army, navy, and air force, and once those doctors were commissioned, how should they be retained? The programs established to train and retain physicians, coupled with the increasing number ...

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pp. 200-204

This book has dealt with the progress of women doctors in war, delving back into eras in which military medicine resisted the very idea of women physicians in uniform. In many ways the military’s attitude has been a simple reflection of the society it served, a society in which women physicians were viewed with suspicion and distrust. In August 1865, for example, Dr. Ann Preston, dean of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, wrote to Mary E. Walker about conferring an honorary degree on her: “As ...


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pp. 205-232


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pp. 233-244


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pp. 245-255

E-ISBN-13: 9781603445726
E-ISBN-10: 1603445722
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603441469
Print-ISBN-10: 1603441468

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 33 b&w photos. Chart. 8 tables.
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 680622516
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Women Doctors in War

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Subject Headings

  • Women and war -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- Medical personnel -- History.
  • Women physicians -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- Women -- History.
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