Who Knew? Twenty Plus Who Paved the Way!

Post written and copyright by Doris McCraw








I hope everyone had a pleasant time off and enjoyed the offerings of the season. I’ve had less time to research but that didn’t stop me from trying. For this post I’m sharing some statistics about some of these early women doctors. For this post, the focus is the women who were practicing prior to 1890. This is a sample of what I start with as I go about putting together the story of the lives of these amazing women.

Of course we know of Alida Avery, one of, if not the first women doctor in Colorado. Then of course there is Julia Loomis, who was Colorado Springs first, who passed away in 1880. There is Harriett Leonard, the first in Manitou Springs.

Here then is a sampling of some of the others who received a licensed prior to 1890. I am still in the early stages of research and I know I will find more.

Augusta B. Nelson practiced in Denver, received her license in 1888 and was 59 at the time.

Mary Ogden practiced in Denver, received her license in 1886 and was 45.

Caroline F. Parker practiced in Longmont, received her license in 1883 at the age of 43.

Celestia D Messinger practiced in Leadville and other places was 41 when she was licensed in 1883

Anna Marsh received her license in 1881, the year licensing started and was 43. She started her practice in Greeley.

Madeline Marquette (Baker) was licensed in 1888 at a young 28 and along with Dr. Josepha Williams opened a private sanitarium in Denver.

Mary Mallory, licensed in 1888 also at 42 years of age. She started her practice in Salida, but moved to California in 1890.

Julia McNutt was 41 in 1884 when she received her license and practiced in San Juan County Colorado

Trail to the North Star mine up King Solomon Mountain, Cunningham Gulch. San Juan County, Colorado. 1875.


Julia Adams was 50 in 1881 and practiced in Chaffee County. Her license is #124.

Elnora W. Anderson was a young 35 in 1881 when she received license #184, setting up a practice in Denver.

There are twenty plus additional women on the list, and with rare exception the age at time of receiving their license is forty or older. Yes a lot of them set up a practice in Denver, but as you can see by the sample above they also headed out to the mountains and other less populous areas.  The more I learn about these women who followed their dreams the more I want to know. Their desire and fortitude show me that a dream doesn’t end when you reach a certain age, it is ageless. Can I do any less?

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

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/angelaraines-dorismccraw
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com
Blog: http://renawomyn.blogspot.com/ 




19 thoughts on “Who Knew? Twenty Plus Who Paved the Way!

  1. As always, loved the post Doris. I am fascinated with the research you are doing and it is important to know about those who struggled to get into a profession dominated by men. It must have been a challenge wherever these women practiced, but it is obvious they were determined, and it’s a bit sad that you have to do so much digging to find them and re-introduce them to the world, when many of them should have been noticed for their hard work and sacrifice. I am intrigued by the picture of the trail to the North Star mining camp. That trail must have been a scary trip! I also like the picture of Leadville, Co. It gives us some insight into what life was like in another era. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thank you Linda, it is my passion. I am finding that the history of women in male fields is not holding up tot he concept that women weren’t allowed. It will take more research, but it is a wonderful journey. I am glad you are enjoying the stories I get to share. Doris


    1. Abbie, it has been eye opening. It will take a bit more research, but my thought is the states who were knowns for their ‘health’ spas will have more women. I know Colorado developed the reputation for a health mecca. Doris


  2. I like your extrapolation to health spas, with Colorado considered a health mecca. Like you I am intrigued that so many women got their licenses and started practicing medicine when they were in their 40s. Perhaps they waited until after they raised their children, but then I think that this may be too simple an answer.


    1. I agree Mike. I do think the answer is a bit more complex. It hadn’t been that long since the Civil War ended, and I think women took advantage of the times to go to medical school, when more doctors were needed. Some of these women were single, and some married. It is for sure I will be looking for explanations. Doris


      1. Here I am… a former Civil War re-enactor back in the mid to late ’70s and I didn’t think of that bit of evidence. You should do a book on the role of women in the medical field during the American Civil War.


    1. Thank you Frank. I will say, once I started researching these women, they grabbed me and won’t let me go until I tell their story. Their toughness is still coming through today. Thanks for stopping by. doris


  3. I, too, am intrigued by the fact many were 40 to 50 years old — an encouragement to many of us that new chapters in our lives can be exciting no matter what our age! Thanks for continuing to educate and inspire us, Doris — great post!


    1. Gayle, It is something I will watching as I continue on this journey. I agree it is very encouraging to see how many embarked on a new career, it gives those of us at a ‘certain’ age something to strive for.

      Thank you for the continued support and encouragement. Doris


  4. Like others who have commented, I was struck by their ages–so many in their 40’s and 50’s. Do you know how long it took to be certified then? How many years might each of them have been studying and working toward certification?


    1. Medical school was two years, but it took years to develop a practice. Prior to that, a person could pay a doctor and follow him around for year or so and then you’d be qualified to practice. In Colorado, the way I understood it, you had to provide a certificate of graduation, and maybe a test. I’m still working on verifying the test. Doris


  5. Doris, I was 42 when I started learning to paint, and 54 when I started writing. I learmed to drive a truck was 47 Who know what I will learn to do when to do. Congrsts on all that you do. Cher’ley.


    1. Cher’ley, I love that you continue to learn and grow, and we are the beneficiaries. Life is such a gift and as I work with the stories of these women, I also feel the joy of learning, no matter what the age. Thank you and the same congratulations back to you. Doris


  6. I wonder if some of them who were licensed at around 40 had come from some kind of medical background- ie a husband/brother/father who could no longer have a practice? Very interesting studies, Doris.


    1. Nancy, some did and some, as far as I can tell, just had an affinity for the healing field. The more I learn, the more I know I need to find out.

      You are right, this is an interesting subject, and the dynamics change in the 1890’s which I shall explore in a later post. Doris


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