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Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

Mary WycheAll this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

Mary L. Wyche was chiefly responsible for establishing nursing as a profession in North Carolina. Raised in Vance County, she went to work at Rex Hospital in Raleigh and Watts Hospital in Durham shortly after completing her medical training in Philadelphia in 1894.

While at Rex in 1901 Wyche organized the Raleigh Nurses’ Association. The following year, she founded the North Carolina Nurses’ Association with 14 other nurses from around the state. During her six-year tenure as that organization’s president Wyche persuaded the legislature to enact a law concerning the registration of nurses.

Instrumental in the founding of several nursing schools, Wyche retired from active service in 1910 to work on a history of nursing in North Carolina. The history was published two years after her death in 1936. At least one writer claimed, “What Clara Barton has been to America, Mary Lewis Wyche has been to North Carolina.”

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Connie GuionAll this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

At her death in 1971, Dr. Connie M. Guion was the dean of the nation’s women physicians. The first female professor of clinical medicine at an American university, the first female member of the medical board of New York Hospital and the first living female doctor for whom a major hospital building was named, Guion was a true pioneer for women in the medical field.

Born in 1882 at a plantation near Lincolnton, Guion was educated at Miss Kate Shipp’s School in Lincolnton, Northfield Seminary, Wellesley College and Cornell Medical School. On completing her medical degree, she interned at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital during the flu epidemic of 1918 and gained a national reputation in medicine at a time when few women entered the field.

For almost 50 years she was associated with the Cornell medical clinic, where she became a full professor in 1946. Famous for working 12-hour days until her retirement at age 87, the New York Herald Tribune called her the “greatest lady of our time.” She visited her native state often and is buried in Charlotte.

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Faculty at the Leonard Medical School, ca. 1902. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill

Faculty at the Leonard Medical School, ca. 1902. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina’s black history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit from our state’s African American’s past.

Often referred to as the oldest historically black institution of higher learning in the South, Shaw University was founded by Henry M. Tupper, a white minister and Union Army veteran from Massachusetts in 1865.

Etsy Hall at Shaw University ca. 1873. Image from the State Archives

Etsy Hall at Shaw University ca. 1873. Image from the State Archives

Begun as a theological class which met just north of the Capitol grounds, the school became the Shaw Collegiate Institute in 1870 after the receipt of a major gift. In 1875 the General Assembly granted a formal charter to the university.

From 1882 to 1918 Shaw operated Leonard Medical School, which, during that period, educated more than 400 African American physicians. Four other medical schools for African-Americans predated it, but Leonard was the first such school in the United States to offer a four-year graded curriculum of the sort used today. The four-year course of study was made the standard in 1893, eleven years after Leonard had instituted it.

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Veterans Day (November 11 in honor of Armistice day) is a time for recognizing the sacrifices made by members of our armed services.  So this time of year I like to call people’s attention to a little-known North Carolina program that benefited the state’s  Confederate veterans.

Patent sketch for the Jewett leg for above-the-knee amputations

About 75 percent of the operations performed by surgeons during the Civil War were amputations.  For those who survived amputation and the resulting infections, the pursuit of artificial limbs was natural.

Artificial legs, and to a lesser extent, arms, also helped the amputees get back to work in order to support themselves and their families. The United States government assisted Union amputees after the Civil War, but Confederate veterans were considered the responsibilities of the states.

North Carolina responded quickly to the needs of her citizens and became the first of the former Confederate states to offer artificial limbs to amputees.  The General Assembly passed a Resolution in February 1866 to provide artificial legs to amputees.  (Because artificial arms were not considered to be very functional, it was another year before the state offered artificial arms.)  The state contracted with Jewett’s Patent Leg Company, and a temporary factory was set up in Raleigh.  During the five years that the state operated the artificial limbs program, 1,550 Confederate veterans contacted the state for help.

Samuel Clark’s 1866 leg.  It is currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of History.

There are two Jewett legs that are on display in North Carolina.  Robert Alexander Hanna’s below-the –knee prosthetic is in the visitor’s center at Bentonville Battlefield in Four Oaks. Hanna’s family reported that he made a variety of peg-type legs to use on the farm so that he could save the manufactured one for special occasions. Samuel Clark received an Jewett leg for his above-the-knee amputation.  His later pension indicated that he was unable to use the device.  Clark’s prosthetic leg remained in his family and is now on loan for the new exhibit called North Carolina and the Civil War: The Raging Storm, 1863, which just opened at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

The records of the Artificial Limbs Department are available for research in the North Carolina State Archives.  And an index to all of the records, by the name of the veteran, is published in Phantom Pain, which is on sale on at our Historical Publications office.

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