Post copyright by Doris McCraw
Let’s talk a bit about myths and misconceptions. For those who follow my post with Writing Wranglers and Warriors, along with two others I write for, know I have written a lot about early women doctors and other women who don’t fit the norm we think we know from history.
There are few women who were mentioned n our history lessons when I was growing up. Dolly Madison and Abigail Adams were briefly mentioned along with Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton. Footnotes mostly. I don’t suppose I thought much about it. I had strong women around me, so didn’t think about how others might perceive women and history. After I left home, I realized how erroneous my thoughts were. Since that time, I’ve made it a point to find and tell the stories of the forgotten women and men who truly made our history.
One of the biggest, in my research, is women had a difficult time being doctors. While initially there was hesitation, once the floodgates opened that doesn’t seem to hold up to scrutiny. If that were the case, how could Alida Avery be one of the early instructors and doctor at Vassar and later being asked to take charge of the hygiene for the town of Denver, Colorado.
In Colorado Springs there were four women doctors in a region with a populations of around ten thousand by 1880. One was the proprietor of a spa on Manitou Springs, and the other three were in Colorado Springs.
In the Civil War, women were not allowed to serve as doctors, but that didn’t stop them. Mary Edwards Walker took matters into her own hands. For more about this doctor, here is a link: http://www.northnet.org/stlawrenceaauw/walker.htm Others served alongside husbands or worked as nurses.
Nuns were also very active in the early days. Sister Blandina, a member of the Sisters of Charity, did amazing work in the west. In her book “End of the Santa Fe Trail” she talks about her confrontation with Billy the Kid and other adventures. The book and her story are well worth the time to study and read. For more about this amazing woman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blandina_Segale Nuns were also responsible for many hospitals and care of the indigent and ill. St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs was created when so many came to the area for a cure, but had no funds to pay for such. http://coloradohealthcarehistory.com/hospitals-st-francis-colorado-springs.html
So the next time you think that women were just a side note to history, pause and rethink that thought. Colorado College hired a woman doctor for the co-ed campus, in 1894, long before they hired a woman Phd. Teresita Sandoval was part and parcel of early Colorado history. A bit of her story here: http://sweetamericanasweethearts.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-woman-in-history-everyone-should.html . Women have been movers and shakers all along. We just need to take the time to learn their stories. It is time well spent, I promise. Until next time, here’s to the unsung people of history.
“NEVER HAD A CHANCE” , second in the Agate Gulch stories, in the Prairie Rose Publications “A COWBOY CELEBRATION” anthology http://amzn.to/1GzwJhw