Post copyright 2014 by Doris McCraw







History, love it or hate it. For most researchers there is a love/hate relationship. You love what you find, but it leads to more. You end up asking more questions than you answer. Still that is what leads to new ideas, new stories or new assumptions. There I said it, assumptions.

Usually when you start a research project you have an idea of what you are looking for and what the outcome will be. For the purpose of this post, I will be starting with the assumption that women had a hard time being accepted as doctors. That is what most of the writing and research has said.

I started there also, but here is where I challenge that assumption. The research I have done shows there are many women doctors in Colorado from the 1870’s to 1900.  There are far more women who went to medical school, received licenses and practiced in the state than one would expect. Add to this the overall state population during that  time  you will see how one could challenge the accepted norm. The research also led to making a connection to the women’s movement of the 1960′ & 70’s.

Census Pop.
1860 34,277
1870 39,864 16.3%
1880 194,327 387.5%
1890 413,249 112.7%
1900 539,700 30.6%

Prior to 1974 when Angie Dickinson starred in “Police Woman”, there had not been a successful television drama with a female lead. Yes, women had television shows but most were not weekly dramas. Now, women consistently star in and have their own television dramas, comedies, even their own networks.

Dickinson as Pepper Anderson, 1975 in Police Woman


If women can become equals in an industry that has been dominated by men within such a short period of time, who says the same may not have occurred in the 1800’s. There were many women who were practicing along side husbands, or singly in hospitals, sanatoriums and private practice. They could not have survived if they were not accepted and had a clientele. They not only survived, a number of them thrived.

Am I correct in my assumption? Perhaps not, but by challenging the norm I have allowed myself to look for other pieces of information. You only find what you are looking for, unless of course you challenge that assumption and see what else you can find.  Time and research will tell. But for now, I’m off on the adventure of a lifetime in research.

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

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