Myths and Misconceptions

Post copyright by Doris McCraw

Doris

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.

alida c avery

Alida Avery

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

St Francis Hospital ~ Colorado Springs Colorado ~ 1925: Spring History, Historical Colorado,

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.

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“NEVER HAD A CHANCE” , second in the Agate Gulch stories, in the Prairie Rose Publications “A COWBOY CELEBRATION” anthology http://amzn.to/1GzwJhw

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20 Responses to Myths and Misconceptions

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    That’s exciting to know, but it’s sad to think that their contributions, as important as they were, seem to be ignored by historians. Do you think this is because much of history is written by men? Or are their stories just there and we haven’t been taught them?

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    • Doris says:

      Joe,
      I think it may be a combination of both. Women didn’t ‘talk’ about their accomplishments. They were busy trying to get the vote or keep house and body together. Some of the women didn’t marry, and yet others did. Also, much like today, only the sensational makes the news. Women and men, I think were not about self promotion, they were about getting the job done. If you look at most history it’s about the big events, the sensational. Doris

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike Staton says:

    I think you have something with they “were not about self-promotion.” Look at today. Who’s getting all the headlines in politics. Donald Trump. That’s why we need historians like you doing the “grunt work” and bringing us their tales.

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    • Doris says:

      Mike,
      Thank you for the kind words. I do love my research. I admit, I spend a lot of time with the women of the old west. I guess I just want the ‘little’ people, both men and women to be heard. Doris

      Like

  3. Great post, as always, Doris! The research you do and the education you provide are amazing — I love reading your posts!! See you soon and good luck on Thursday night!

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    • Doris says:

      Thank you Gayle. I’m glad you and others enjoy the pieces of information I find. Thanks also for the encouragement for Thursday. Doris

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  4. Wranglers says:

    Doris, thanks so much, my little Western Stories are about strong women. You’re research is inspiring. Thanks Cher’ley

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  5. sstamm625 says:

    You find so many interesting people, Doris. It is valuable work, revealing the history of those amazing ordinary people.

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    • Doris says:

      Stephanie, It seems they want me to find them. That is what I think, otherwise, I’m not sure how to explain my luck in locating the resources to bring their stories to light. Thanks! Doris

      Like

  6. Tanya Hanson says:

    Wonderful post, Doris. Women in the legal profession faced terrible hurdles, too. I so love learning about our strong foremothers now, especially when we never learned about them in school.

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    • Doris says:

      Thank you Tanya. I had an author friend who wrote a novel about an attorney in the Chicago area in the 1800’s. I love the fact that these women did not give up. That their stories are a passion of mine is a given. Thanks for stopping by. Doris

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  7. Neva Bodin says:

    Great research and references Doris. Thanks for sharing all your interesting efforts in keeping the spirit of these strong women alive. And I bet nothing was named after them! So many things are named after men. As I blogged last Saturday, there are three creeks in WY named after women–lady doves supposedly. But I don’t see any named after doctors and lawyers.

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    • Doris says:

      Neva, If there is anything named for most of these women, it is few and far between. Still, it is my desire that their stories stay alive. (Sigh) I am glad people like and appreciate their lives. If they could do it, well, we can too. Doris

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  8. Nancy Jardine says:

    Great observations, Doris. I think it was much the same here in that nuns were often completely unsung heroes in the earliest ‘hospitals’, and that many of them were in their own ways very highly experienced personnel- even though they held few, if any, formal qualifications. It wasn’t the done thing to trumpet your achievements as you so rightly point out. My current writing is set in Victorian times and I’ll be trying to fit in some research time on the earliest female doctors in Scotland- since I know nothing really about them.

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    • Doris says:

      Nancy,
      Thank you for the compliment. That you are taking on the Victorian times is thrilling. I think many times, because of the religious aspect, nuns and priests are not given the amount of credit they deserve. Here’s to the research. If you need any help, I’ll be glad to do what I can. Doris

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  9. S. J. Brown says:

    It is admirable that you found a void and are filling it. I have learned a lot from your posts and I look forward to learning more.

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    • Doris says:

      Thank you so much S. J. It means a lot to me that people are responding to the stories of these early women pioneers. Thank you. Doris

      Like

  10. Travis says:

    I think, as mentioned above, women are less like likely to brag and toot their horns like some men do. That happens in the workplace today. Some men are louder about their accomplishments (often with work from others) than more accomplished coworkers (of both sexes.)

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    • Doris says:

      Travis, your response made me smile. You are one of those rare people who think things through. I love that.

      I do think women tend to just get the work done. There was/ is no time for self-promotion. Thanks for the insight Travis. Doris

      Like

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