cover image Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

Olivia Campbell. Park Row, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7783-8939-2

Journalist Campbell debuts with an inspirational group portrait of the first three women who became licensed doctors in the U.S. and the U.K. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910), the first woman to be accepted to an American medical school, got in because the male students who voted for her admittance thought her application was a joke. British physician Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836–1917) worked as a surgical nurse and studied with private tutors to pass the medical licensing exam, and cofounded the first hospital staffed by women. Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912) became the first practicing female doctor in Scotland. Though women had always served their communities and families as healers, Campbell writes, “when medicine began to be solidified as a profession... patriarchal control swept in.” She delves into her subjects’ love lives and family relationships; documents their battles against sexist school administrators and professors, including pioneering surgeon Joseph Lister; and notes their support for one another as well as their differences of opinion. At times, Campbell makes it sound as if her subjects were pledging a sorority rather than entering a profession, but her extensive research and lucid writing about medical matters impress. This entertaining account adds a valuable chapter to the history of women and medicine. Agent: Zoe Sandler, ICM Partners. (Mar.)