Womens History~ Dr Sarah Stevenson


Dr Sarah Ann Hackett Stevenson


Sarah Ann Hackett Stevenson, physician, educator, author, school administrator, temperance advocate and activist in the Methodist church and Chicago area women’s clubs, was born on February 2, 1841 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She graduated from the State Normal University of Illinois in 1863 and taught school for several years as well as serving as a school principal, Later Ms Stevenson spent a year in London, England, studying under Thomas Huxley. In 1874 she graduated from the Woman’s Hospital Medical College of Chicago with her MD, the valedictorian of her class. Dr Stevenson became the first woman to be a member of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1876. She helped to found the Illinois Training School for Nurses in 1880 and in 1893 Governor John Altgeld appointed her to the Illinois State Board of Health, the first woman to serve on that Board. For many years Dr Stevenson was a close friend of the English woman’s rights activist Emily Faithful. She died in Chicago on August 14, 1909.

Her published works include: Boys and Girls in Biology (1875); The Physiology of Women (1880); Wife and Mother: Or, Information for Every Woman (1888).

V0047593 A female doctor takes the pulse of a male patient

V0047593 A female doctor takes the pulse of a male patient Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A cartoon showing a lady physician attending to a young man in an armchair. The caption suggests he has purposefully caught a cold in order to be seen by the young pretty doctor. Engraving 1865 By: George Du MaurierPublished: 23 December 1865. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A good biographical profile can be found at “Monstrous Productions or the Best of Womanhood? Progressive-Era Women in Medicine” by Brigid Lusk in Chicago History vol 28 #2 (Fall 1999) pp 4-19; see generally Distinguished Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago (1904); History of Medicine and Surgery and Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago (1922); Medicine in Chicago, 1850–1950 (1957); Send us a Lady Physician: Women Doctors in America, 1835–1920 (1985); Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply (1977).

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