The Woman’s Medical College in Baltimore

By Emily Emerson Lantz
Originally printed in the Evening Sun, May 13, 1918

Visitors to Baltimore from the North are wont to make smiling reference to what they term the “leisurely Southern atmosphere” of this city. Chased by motor vehicle, bewildered by staggered skip-stops of trolley cars, and encouraged to “step lively” by irate conductors, Baltimoreans themselves are rather laboring under the impression that they are “going some”, not to say being rushed to death on a cyclonic whirlwind of haste.

But admitting certain tranquility of character inherited from placid Maryland ancestors, certain outward seeming of deliberate movement on the part of citizens, Baltimore, like the tortoise in Aesop’s fable, has always had a way of getting there, and what is more, of reaching the goal somewhat ahead of the other competitors.

Perhaps it is because Baltimore, as a community, is inclined to give a courteous and sympathetic hearing to propositions, and to listen to a cause is often to espouse it.

Take for example the matter of affording medical instruction to women! Thirty-six years ago, when most medical colleges were firmly opposed to admitting women students to their clinics, Baltimore was establishing a first-class medical college for the instruction of women. If local medical schools refused to open their doors to women students, well and good; that was their privilege; but –- then establish a medical college for women.

It was in line with the old idea cherished by Southern men that what a woman wants, that she must be given, and that intellectually woman is the equal of man.
And so, the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore came into being. The Women did not have to found it; two well-known physicians, Dr. Randolph Winslow and Dr. Thomas A. Ashby, were its originators and promoters.

It seems these two medical men were one day standing upon a street corner discussing matters pertaining to their profession, when Dr. Winslow said, “Let us start a medical school for women.” His colleague expressed surprise, but not disapproval at the suggestion, and while they were talking, a third member of the profession, Dr. B.B. Browne, joined the group and became interested in the project.

A fourth physician, Dr. Eugene F. Cordell, was consulted, with the result that in 1882, the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore was established with these four broad-minded medical men as founders and instructors.

The charter was obtained on February 24, 1882, additional incorporators being Drs. William D. Booker, Herbert Harlan, and Robert B. Morrison. The college opened in 1882, those contributing to its first course of lectures being Drs. Winslow, Browne, Ashby, Cordell, Booker, John S. Lynch, Richard H. Thomas, and John G. Jay.

It was the ambition of the founders to provide a medical college of a high standard, and to this end, they imposed a preliminary examination upon all applicants for admission as students who could not show adequate evidence by certificate or diploma of satisfactory attainment. This was a distinct innovation.

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