Rare Book Profile: James Parton’s Eminent Women of the Age; being narratives of the lives and deeds of the most prominent women of the present generation

 

CoverEminent Women of the Age: Being Narratives of the Lives and Deeds of the Most Prominent Women of the Present Generation (Hartford, Conn.: S.M. Betts & Co., 1868) was compiled by popular biographer James Parton. In the preface, he explained that while many works dealt with the lives and deeds of men, “in respect to eminent women of our age, there is not in existence, so far as the publishers are aware, any work, or series of works, which supplies the information contained in this volume.” The biographical sketches in the volume were written by Parton and his wife Sara (a popular novelist who used the pen-name Fanny Fern), and sixteen others, including Horace Greeley and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Grace Greenwod. Stanton Fern, and Greenwood were also among the biographees.

James Parton (1822-1891) was a popular American biographer best known for books on the lives of prominent men, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Greeley, General Benjamin Butler, and Voltaire, biographical collections, such as Captains of Industry (1884) and Revolutionary Heroes (1890), and nonfiction works on a variety of topics ranging from taxation of churches to humorous poetry. He was born in Canterbury, England, but came to the United States with his family at the age of 5. After completing his education in New York City and White Plains, New York, he taught school, first in Philadelphia and later in New York City. In 1875, three years after his wife’s death, he moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he lived until he died in 1891.

Most of the biographees are American, with some notable exceptions, such as Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, and Empress Eugenie, and a number of artists and actresses. A section devoted to women as physicians was written by Henry Bond Elliot, a Congregational minister. It begins with an historical overview of medical education for women, especially in the United States, followed by biographical sketches of five American physicians: Clemence S. Lozier (Syracuse Eclectic College, 1853), Elizabeth Blackwell (Geneva Medical College, 1849), Harriot Kezia Hunt (studied privately with Dr. Richard Dixon Mott and his wife), Hannah E. Myers Longshore (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850), and Ann Preston (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1866). The only subject whose portrait is included is Dr. Lozier.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy of Eminent Women of the Age was recased in its original publisher’s green cloth with gilt-stamped spine and upper board by Frank B. Roger, M.D. It is illustrated with steel-engraved portraits.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]

Rare Book Profile: Elizabeth Blackwell’s Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women

BlackwellTP

Elizabeth Blackwell’s Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co., c1895) is a first-hand account of the beginning of women as medical professionals in modern times.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman to receive a degree from a medical college and a pioneer in public health.  She was born in England, to a family dedicated to social reform, and came to the United States in 1832, when her father, Samuel Blackwell, relocated the family to participate in the abolitionist movement. Elizabeth initially became a teacher, but became interested in medicine when a dying friend told her that women would suffer much less in the care of a woman physician. Blackwell studied to acquire the prerequisite education, then applied to and was rejected by almost every medical school in the Northeast. Geneva Medical College, a small school in western New York finally accepted her in 1847. She graduated in 1849, and went to study in the great teaching hospitals of Europe. The only opportunity offered in Paris was at the lying-in hospital, La Maternité, where she trained in midwifery and diseases of women and children. She studied for several months at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. An eye injury thwarted her ambition to become a surgeon, so in 1851 she returned to the United States, where she opened a practice in New York City. She opened her own dispensary in 1853, and then closed it to establish the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children in 1857, providing hospital care for the poor and training for female medical and nursing students.

In 1858, Blackwell went on a year-long lecture tour of Great Britain, and became the first woman to have her name on the British Medical Register. During the American Civil War, Blackwell helped organize the Women’s Central Association of Relief, training nurses for military service, and later helped create the United States Sanitary Commission. Blackwell established the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary in 1868, and in 1869 she returned to England, established a medical practice, and was professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Children from 1875 until her retirement in 1907.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy is the first edition, bound in publisher’s green cloth with gilt-stamped spine, blind-stamped boards, and black coated endpapers. It was given to the library by Dr. James J. Waring.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]