False Notions: Women as Physicians in the Mid-1850s

Scribbling Women & The American Periodical

Within many of the issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book, much time is spent on the education of women as physicians — namely, whether or not it should be allowed, why, and how it should be accomplished.

The conversation was going on in other nations: England had its own debates over the subject, and seemed to take one step forward and two back every so often; even with Florence Nightingale innovating in the medical space and representing the nation abroad, the British had their doubts. France, seat of “enlightened thought,” seemed to be moving forward with the idea. It was vital for American publications – especially women’s publications – with the idea stirring within the population, to take a stance on the issue.

Physicians as domestic agents

“Shall the medical profession through the influence of selfishness, professional pride, an under estimate [sic] of the capacity of woman, false notions as to her…

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