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New England Hospital for Women and Children Records, 1792 - 1994
27 boxes (9.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 339

Abstract:
Women's hospital. This hospital was, for more than a century, a teaching hospital for women doctors and a place where women could receive treatment from them. It was the first hospital in Boston to offer obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics all in one facility. Material includes memoranda, written histories, photographs and scrapbooks. Also documented are such topics as a 1915 controversy over abortion, using chloroform as an anesthetic, and African American interns. The collection includes several hundred letters collected for their autograph value for fund-raising fairs. The letters do not relate to the Hospital; content includes woman suffrage, abolition, freedmen's education, literature, and Civil War relief. Notable correspondents include: Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Stone Blackwell, Elizabeth Blackwell, Lydia Maria Child, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Julia Ward Howe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Lucy Stone, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Historical Note
Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska, 1896

Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska, 1896

The New England Hospital for Women and Children (NEH), founded by Dr. Marie Zakrzewska and Ednah Dow Cheney, opened in Boston on July 1, 1862. It was, for more than a century, a teaching hospital where women doctors and nurses could study and practice medicine and women could receive treatment from female doctors. It was the first hospital in Boston to offer obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics all in one facility. The concept grew out of Zakrzewska's close friendships with influential women in Boston. These early supporters included reformers such as Abby May, Caroline Severance and philanthropist, Lucy Goddard. Goddard served as president for the first twenty-fuve years until 1887. Cheney served as secretary, becoming president in 1887. She resigned in 1902. During its first ten years the NEH served primarily the immigrant population of the area. Despite the hard financial times during the Civil War, Dr. Zakrzewska and her supporters raised enough money to sustain the hospital in its early years. Throughout the nineteenth century the NEH grew steadily from ten beds and approximately $150 in assets in 1862 to a budget of $146,000 in 1872. Among the doctors who served the NEH were Dr. Susan Dimock and Dr. Lucy Sewall. The country's first trained nurse, Linda Richards, studied at NEH in 1873; and the first African-American nurse, Mary Eliza Mahoney, graduated in 1875. Born and nourished by separatism, the nineteenth century solution to sexual discrimination, the hospital, by the time of its centennial in 1912, was facing conflict over integration and the challenge of justifying its existence as an all-woman's hospital. This was due in part to a growing tendency among women doctors to achieve professional equality with men, manifested by the integration of the medical profession, specialization, membership in male-dominated medical societies, and affiliation at male dominated hospitals. There were continual financial troubles as well and in the 1950s, the United Community Services of Greater Boston recommended that the hospital be open to male physicians. In response to this pressure, the board of directors adopted one of its recommendations and changed the institution's official name from the New England Hospital for Women and Children to the New England Hospital, thus indicating their willingness to accept men as patients. The controversy continued through the 1950s and 1960s. Following a long battle led by Blanche Ames Ames, Chair of the hospital's board of directors, the NEH closed in 1969 and reopened as an outpatient clinic. The clinic was named the Dimock Community Health Center.

See also Hospital With A Heart: Women Doctors and the Paradox of Separatism in the New England Hospital, 1862-1969, by Virginia G. Drachman (Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1984).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of the New England Hospital contain manuscripts, photographs, annual reports, minutes, a scrapbook, printed material, legal and financial records, correspondence and memorabilia. They are divided into two parts. The first (SERIES I-V) is a group of miscellaneous papers dealing with the early history of the hospital. It includes material related to fund drives and anniversary celebrations (1896-1962); manuscript and published Annual Reports, 1863-1955; correspondence (1847-1922); business and financial papers (1859-1920); circulars and rules ; memoranda and minutes of physicians' meetings (1876-1917) (including one bound volume of minutes); photographs, a scrapbook; and miscellaneous subjects including a controversy over abortion (1915), the use of chloroform as an anesthetic (1888), and African-American women interns. There is also application material from women medical students seeking internships, including letters, forms, recommendations, and transcripts (1891-1926). The second part (SERIES VI) contains several hundred letters collected for their autograph value for sale at nineteenth century fund-raising fairs. These letters are largely from the correspondence of Ednah Dow Cheney and Eva Channing. While they do not relate in content to the Hospital, they are authored by major literary, political, and religious figures of the latter half of the nineteenth century. They form a valuable collection of source material in the social and intellectual history of the period. Topics include woman suffrage, social services, abolition, freedmen's education, literature, and Civil War relief. The correspondents cover a wide range of notables, including: Louisa May Alcott (1882-88), Alice Stone Blackwell (1886-1903); Elizabeth Blackwell (1848-87); George Washington Cable (1877-1904), Lydia Maria Child (1860-69), Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1857-1902); Julia Ward Howe (1862-1900); Henry Wadsworth Longfelllow (1864-78), Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1881-87), Lucy Stone (1879-93), Harriet Beecher Stowe (1860-70), and John Greenleaf Whittier (1862-90). For additional noted correspondents see Search Terms.

These records provide a unique insight into medical education and health care for women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the sometimes difficult and contentious internal challenges within the Hospital, and its struggle to maintain its independence in a rapidly changing social and cultural environment.

The bulk of the hospital records are dated between 1862 and 1956. They are divided into six series: I. History, II. Personal, III. Financial, IV. Correspondence, V. Subjects, VI. Autograph Collection


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

New England Hospital for Women and Children Records, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Additional Formats

The finance committee records (1877-1915), the records of the physicians meetings (1876-1917), and A Practical Illustration of "Woman's Right To Labor;" or, A letter from Marie E. Zakrzewska, M.D., edited by Caroline Dall are available on the History of Women microfilm series (New Haven: Research Publications) available in the Sophia Smith Collection and Neilson Library, Smith College and through interlibrary loan.

History of the Collection

The Records of the New England Hospital for Women and Children were given to the Sophia Smith Collection between 1962 and 1964 by the Board of Directors through the efforts of Mary Byers Smith (Smith '08), member of the board. Copies of photographs of Bessie H. Simpson were donated in 2009 by Janet McIiver.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Boone, 2001.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/

Language
English.