Connected Across Time

Post written and copyright by Doris McCraw

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November, in addition to Thanksgiving, is also the month when most of us have to deal with election campaigns. To say the phone calls and ads can be annoying is an understatement. However, in honor of the day I thought you might be interested in two women doctors who shared a passion across the years. I have not been able to note that they ever met, but…well read for yourself.

I have spoken of Alida C. Avery in an earlier post. Born in Sherburne, New York in 1833 she and graduated from the New England Medical College in Boston. She joined Vassar College in 1865 as a professor of Physiology & Hygiene  and the resident physician. In 1874 she moved to Denver, Colorado and set up a practice there. She also became Superintendent of Hygiene for Colorado.

Dr. Alida C. Avery

By 1877 Dr. Avery was actively involved with the suffrage movement. In Colorado she was president of  organization. She traveled speaking on suffrage and other topics connected with her work. In 1889 she moved to California, but still an active advocate of equal rights. She passed away in San Jose, California in 1908.

Caroline E. Spencer was born in 1861 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She  graduated from the Philadelphia Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1892. She moved to Colorado Springs in 1893.  Her involvement in the suffrage movement, in the form of the National Womens Party, took on national recognition when she and fellow members interrupted campaigns to ask the candidates their stand on women’s equality and what they intended to do about it. She was sentenced, for picketing the White House, to seven months in jail. This did not discourage Dr. Spencer or her colleagues. Caroline Spencer continued her involvement until her death in 1928 shortly after leaving Colorado and returning to Pennsylvania.

Dr. Caroline E. Spencer

Dr. Avery was involved in the movement in the early days but Dr. Spencer was there when the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote was passed. Dr. Spencer continued encouraging women to take part in politics and run for office. These two women have a fascinating story to tell. If you wish to know more, here are some interesting links:

Until next time, here’s to history and the stories it tells.

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Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

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20 thoughts on “Connected Across Time

  1. What a perfect post for another big day in November. I thoroughly enjoyed the links and your descriptions of these two women who helped pave the way for women. One thing I noticed in the photos is that both Dr. Avery and Dr. Spencer have determined eyes while maintaining softness (which I’m sure was inherent in both). Most of us tend to forget how hard it was for women in the past – we tend to accept the way it is today. Thank your for reminding us how hard it was to get the ability for women to vote and hold office. It makes you think, doesn’t it?


    1. Linda, I agree that we sometimes become complacent and forget what came before. It is sometimes good to be reminded.

      I also think, as you noticed, that both women were determined, but considering their chosen field, it does make sense they were compassionate also. I am glad you enjoyed the links and the post. Doris


  2. Doris, I always find your posts informative and entertaining and this one is perfect. I enjoyed learning about these women and how in many ways they established a foundation upon which future generations would build upon to get us where we are today. Thanks for the post.


    1. They were pretty amazing, weren’t they, Erin? I wish I could have written their life stories, but time and space didn’t allow for that. I admire them and those who were their contemporaries. They did give us a wonderful gift and I think we honor them by remembering and taking advantage of all they did for us. Doris


    1. They were, weren’t they Cher’ley? I am so lucky to be researching and finding such wonderful connections. Thanks for your comments. Doris


  3. Yes, indeed, best possible post to lead up to the Tuesday election. And wonderful that Dr. Spencer got to see women win the vote in the U.S. Overall, it’s been a hard fight to extend the vote to others in the U.S. In the beginning, only white male landowners could vote.


    1. Mike, I often wonder if folks today really know what the cost was to get to the choice we have today when voting. As I was researching these women doctors, the topic just jumped out at me and I knew I had to tell their story. Thank you for the encouragement. I also loved that Dr. Spencer got to see the results of all their work. Doris


  4. Doris, my post is scheduled for Election Day but I’m foregoing writing about it because the political arena is not my cup of tea; therefore, your post is excellent, especially in light of the history you continue to serve up so brilliantly. I always love to read your research and discover more fascinating ladies who braved and paved the way for the rest of us girls! Bravo once again!


    1. Gayle, discussion of politics is not really for me either, but the history of the story, now I can get behind that. These women just told me they wanted the story told. (Actually, the subject fell into my lap as I was researching.) I’m so glad others enjoy these women and their stories. Thank you! Doris


    1. You are welcome Stephanie. I agree, when we forget what it took to have the rights we have today, we take them for granted. When that happens, we could lose all that we’ve gained. Doris


  5. Doris- with an election coming next Spring I expect to have a lot of material coming though my doors, even though our elections are run differently for yours. I won’t get into Scottish politics in this post but after our recent referendum it’s a very interesting and busy phase preparing for the next general UK election. Regarding the historical aspects of female emancipation it’s great ro read your post. In the UK a Womens’ Suffrage Bill failed in 1892 and from then on the Suffrage activity escalated as with you in the US. Women here had a fairly similar time in getting the attention of Parliament (fines and jail sentences for some) before some women (over 30 with property) eventually got the vote in 1918, and then full emancipation for all over 21s in 1928.


    1. Nancy, your information is fascinating to me. There were similarities. WOW, love it. Thank you or stopping and letting me know even more. Yeah! Doris


    1. You are welcome. Yes, we need to remember what others did that we take for granted today. It can be very sobering when you learn the facts. Doris


  6. Interesting post. Seven months in jail for picketing the White House–it sounds as if Dr. Spencer had some of the Establishment worried. Good for her.


    1. These women, both at the beginning and near the end of the struggle did have folks worried. I have a friend who has done a lot of research on Dr. Spencer and she told me she cried when she read that she had passed on, and even to the end she was concerned about women’s equality. (this was in a letter Dr. Spencer’s sister had written) I do hope the younger generation understands what price was paid for the freedoms they have. *Sigh* Doris


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