MHC Connections

Women in Medicine at Mount Holyoke

Mount Holyoke College has a long, distinguished history of encouraging women in scientific and medical enterprise. Here are just a few of our alumnae who went into medical and research fields. Three of these women, Dorothy Hansine Andersen (1922), Virginia Apgar (1929), and Janet L. Mitchell (1972), are also featured in the national exhibit. The other women on this page are not featured in the exhibit, but each has done her part to change the face of medicine.

Alumnae Featured in the Exhibit

Dorothy Hansine Andersen (1922) Dr. Andersen was a noted pathologist and pioneer in cystic fibrosis research and treatment; Andersen was the first person to identify cystic fibrosis and the first American physician to describe the disease.

Virginia Apgar (1929) Dr. Apgar was the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A pioneer in the field of anesthesia, she is most famous for the neonatal viability test used today and known as the Apgar Test.

Janet L Mitchell (1972) Dr. Mitchell runs the largest prenatal program for pregnant, drug-addicted women in New York City.

Alumnae Not Featured in the Exhibit

Mary Phylinda Dole (BA 1886, BS 1889) - Physician and Weaver
Mary Phylinda Dole ran a private practice in Greenfield, MA and then in New Haven, CT from 1891 to 1927. In 1927 she retired from medicine and began hand weaving. Her autobiography, "A Doctor in Homespun," was published in 1941.

Ruth Humphries (1912) – Osteopathic Physician
Ruth Humphries was the first woman president of the New England Osteopathic Association. She was also one of the founders of Massachusetts Osteopathic Hospital. Though she struggled with ill health for many years, she consistently won the praise and admiration of the medical and research communities in which she practiced.

Ida B. Scudder (1925) – Radiologist and Medical Missionary
Ida B. Scudder trained in radiology before moving to Vellore, India for more than 30 years of service at the Christian Medical Colleges and Hospital, founded by her aunt, Dr. Ida S. Scudder. In Vellore, Ida B. founded diagnostic radiology and radiotherapy departments at the hospital. A biography of her life, “Legacy and Challenge – The Story of Dr. Ida B. Scudder” by Jennifer Georgia, was published in 1994.

Elizabeth Onyemelukwe Garner (1989) Dr. Garner is a clinician and researcher with special interest in cervical and ovarian cancer. She is currently an Associate Gynecologist in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

List of Archival Collections of Women in Medicine at MHC.

To learn more about the history of scientific practice at Mount Holyoke College, explore the website created by the students in Eleanor Townsley's Sociology 224: Practicing Sociology.