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James R. Chadwick (1844–1905)

Photograph of James Chadwick from a cabinet photograph of the Kappa Pi Eta or Grub Club, 1897, by photographer H.P. Bowditch. From the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

A leading Boston physician who specialized in women's health, Dr. James Chadwick helped support the inclusion of women within the then exclusively male medical profession. After earning his MD from Harvard in 1871, Chadwick helped establish the gynecological department of Boston City Hospital in 1874, taught gynecology courses at Harvard Medical School, and eventually became president of the American Gynecological Society. In 1875, he was one of the founders of the Boston Medical Library, a rich collection of medical information for Boston physicians. In 1890, he served as the first president of the Harvard Medical Alumni Association.

In 1850, the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania opened, the first school in the country with the mission to train female doctors. Other schools, like the New York Infirmary School, soon began to offer similar programs to expand the number of women in medicine. Though debate over the acceptance of women in the medical profession continued, Chadwick authored a report that cited the contributions of the first generation of New York Infirmary's female graduates. Chadwick's report was a crucial asset for the advocates of women's medical education in their campaign to admit women into traditionally all-male medical schools. Across the US, medical schools began to accept women into their programs at the end of the 19th century, and by 1915 the American Medical Association had admitted its first female member.

Digitized Archival Materials

Papers of James Read Chadwick, 1879–1884

Collection contains correspondence, mostly incoming to Chadwick, that concerns the Boston Medical Library and its portrait collection; gynecological matters, including medical opinions and patient referrals; attendance at meetings of professional societies; invitations to give addresses; cremations and crematoriums; and social activities. Correspondents include J. S. Billings, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Osler, and S. Weir Mitchell. Also includes correspondence from other individuals who were associated with Chadwick and miscellaneous items, such as a report, document, poem, and memorandum.

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The manuscript and archival materials selected for Women Working can be used for research, for the creation of class projects, or to illustrate secondary works. In some cases the items are drawn from larger collections at Harvard. Most of the digitized selections from collections contain a range of materials providing a broader context for understanding the subject.