Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A First and A First

Post (c) Angel Raines/Doris McCraw

Headstone of Julia E Lomis,
Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, CO
On February 24, 1870, six women graduated from the Cleveland Woman’s Homeopathic College in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the early if not the first class to graduate from this institution. These six went through the program to earn their M.D., to follow their dream to help alleviate the suffering of their fellow man. Below are the names of the graduating class and where they were living at the time of admission.

Ursla L Higgins- Elyria
Elizabeth Avery, Connecticut
Louisa M Butts, Michigan
Ada L Adams, Springfield, Ohio
Julia E Loomis, Tennessee
S. Elizabeth Morrell, Kent, Ohio

The same notice also stated the there were one hundred thirty-five cases that were successfully treated during the session. The Valedictorian of this group of women was Mrs. Dr. Higgins.

Julia E Loomis is of particular interest to me. She is the first documented female M.D. in Colorado Springs, having arrived between 1876? and 1878.  Below is her address to her fellow students.

My friends: I asked your kind indulgence while I occupy a few moments of your time. I should regret to leave this place without saying a few words to this class of ladies with whom I have been so long and so pleasantly associated.

My dear friends, we came to this college strangers to each other. We left our widely scattered homes, surmounting all opposing obstacles, with a single purpose in view, our minds all centered on this one great object, that object to prepare ourselves by study for the alleviation of suffering and the elevation of woman. And as we have mingled together with in these walls day after day and month after month, studiously following the same pursuit. Time has endeared you to my heart, and as the period is drawing nigh for separation, and we shall perhaps, no more see each other’s faces until we meet in the better world, my heart is filled with mingled emotions, while I am filled with joy and the greatest delight at the prospect of so soon meeting the dear loved ones at home. A sadness comes over me – a parting sadness.

And to these were the professors I wish to say, that why you have so nobly and faithfully discharge your duty in giving instruction to this class, I think I express the feelings of each individual when I say we highly appreciate your kind instructions, and the very able manner in which they were given. And now, speaking only for myself, I can say that while I sat on the seats before you from day to day a silent listener, I can assure you, your instructions have not been in vain even to this unworthy student. No, your words have been treasured up in the storehouse of memory for future use. Long having had a desire to acquire a knowledge of the practice of medicine, and the door being opened, I entered this college nearly ignorant of all leading branches connected with the science, in one sense like a child, yet with more than a child’s desire to learn. But now as I go out from among you, may I not hope to go prepared to some extent, at least to relieve the suffering of my own sex, and also to bear the responsibility pertaining to our position. Reference having been made to the trifling value of a diploma allow me to think otherwise. As I go out into this new field of action, I can take this roll in my hand, as I come in contact with opposition can use it as a shield of defense. It may therefore be considered as a token of great value to everyone who shall fill this useful and honorable profession.

Although the President of this college has been called by a wise Providence to rest from her toils, allow me to say to the trustees and coworkers that your labors have been productive of great good. You are doing a noble work, and we hope and trust you will not cease your efforts until you see this college resting upon a firm foundation, against which the storms of adversity may beat in vain. As it is now in its infancy and laboring under pecuniary embarrassments, may the future witness its great prosperity. God grant its success in raising up friends and means in abundance to elevated to the high standard that a woman’s college is worthy to attain.
To my sister students, to the trustees who have labored so unselfishly, into this faculty who have so efficiently performed their duty, permit me to bid each and all of you a grateful and affectionate farewell.

Julia's story is even more impressive when you realize she was born in 1816. When she graduated from medical school she was fifty-four years of age. An amazing woman, whose story I am in the process of telling. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women's History

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