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Manuscript Division



Women's Suffrage
Health and Medicine
Blackwell Sisters
Civil War
Red Cross and World War I
Public Health Nurses
Reproductive Health
arrow graphicMale Doctors and Others
Mental Health
Papers of Presidents and First Ladies
Congressional Collections
Legal Collections
Military and Diplomatic Affairs
Literature and Journalism
Artists, Architects, and Designers
Actresses and Actors




Health and Medicine: Male Doctors and Others

The papers of male physicians are also good sources of information about women's medical issues and women's involvement in medical professions. Two examples illustrate this point:

  • Physician Joseph Meredith Toner (237,000 items; 1741-1896) [catalog record] collected among his papers an eighteenth-century manuscript on midwifery and nineteenth-century medical papers on pregnancy, childbirth, venereal disease, and uterine hemorrhaging (see also the Toner collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division).

  • Pathologist and physician John W. Colbert (400 items; 1895-1966; bulk 1903-44) [catalog record] documented his training of nurses in Puerto Rico in 1904-05, his work with Red Cross nurses during World War I, and his advocacy of women's participation in war efforts as the founder of the Woman's Ambulance and Defense Corps of America in the 1940s.

Research in the papers of other male doctors (see especially section on Mental Health) would undoubtedly reveal additional source material of interest to women's historians, as would a broader search of the division's catalogs for the names of individual women doctors and nurses, medical conditions, and organizations and associations.

Casting a wide net often results in some unexpected finds, such as when a search for the term “American Nurses Association” uncovers the papers of public relations executive Edward L. Bernays (227,000 items; 1777-1994; bulk 1920-90) [catalog record], whose clients included many women in the fields of arts and politics. Bernays also represented Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, the Lucy Stone League, and various pharmaceutical companies. For one of his ad campaigns for the American Tobacco Company, Bernays sought to link women's equality with smoking in public, and he arranged for society women to light up during New York's 1929 Easter Parade and for college coeds to lobby for the right to smoke on campus.

The Bernays Papers are a good source not only for women's medical issues but also for studying how advertising was directed toward women, who were thought to control household budgets. They also document the important role his wife, Doris Fleischman Bernays (1891-1980), played in his business affairs and include some of her correspondence, a draft manuscript of her book A Wife Is Many Women (1955), and background information for her pioneering 1928 book An Outline of Careers for Women. Correspondence also exists for Edward and Doris's daughter, novelist Anne Bernays.

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