|New york medical college,|
“The total frontage of the building is forty-five feet, and the style is French renaissance. The material up to the line of the first floor is limestone of grayish-white color. Above this, the front except the cornice and its balustrade, is of terra cotta, of color in harmony with that of the limestone. The terra cotta is well modeled, the free columns of the second story being among the best wrought examples in the city of such architectural details in this material.”
– King’s, History of Homeopathy, III, p. 139.
Highlights of the New York Medical College for Women
College of the Flower and 5th Avenue Hospitals
“Hahnemann was the founder of homeopathy; Gram was it’s pioneer in America; Hering founded the first homoeopathic school of medical instruction in the world; Lozier founded the first woman’s homoeopathic medical college in the world-the New York Medical College for Women.”
-Aldrich and Brown in WH King’s, History of Homoeopathy, Volume III, (1905), p. 125
In the spring of 1863 Dr. Clemence S. Lozier (nee Harned) and her associates, particularly Elizabeth Cady Stanton, petitioned the New York Legislature in order to establish a medical college for women in New York City. On April 14th of that year, their efforts were rewarded as the legislature approved their petition. Thus was born a homeopathic medical college exclusively for women (1,2). One year later, in 1864, the state legislature amended the previous act so that a hospital could be included with the college and, “[S]aid corporation shall be known and designated as the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women and Children.” In 1866 the previous acts were re-amended, the institution re-incorporated, and the school took back it’s original title -The New York Medical College and Hospital for Women.
In actuality, the roots of the college were not homoeopathic and none of the female faculty members were graduates of a homoeopathic medical college but by the end of the first year, homoeopathic influences were beginning to be felt. Homeopathic professors were ‘borrowed’ from the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, sometimes referred to as ‘Flower’ for short (3). The first being T.F. Allen and Carroll Dunham, and later, H.M. Dearborn, W.T. Helmuth, E. Carleton, Rosalie Stolz, etc. Before the beginning of the 1865-6 year the session’s announcement stated:
“Although the wide-spread and imperative demand for female physicians has been responded to by the organization of two colleges exclusively for women this is the first and only one in the world where the law of ‘similia’ is recognized as the only true guide in the administration of drugs.”
-King, p. 129.
Some faculty changes were made, but the more remarkable occurrence was the creation of a separate allopathic institution, Women’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (4), with Clemence as head! To be sure, all was in disarray and infighting was no doubt the rule. In the end, Clemence severed her connection with the new school and came back to the institution which she had originally envisioned. Dr. Lozier became President, Professor of Diseases of Women and Children, and served as Dean for some twenty-five years until her death in 1888. In October of 1863 eighteen women had enrolled for the first session and Emily Schettler was the first graduate in 1864. Henry Ward Beecher, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton each delivered commencement speeches at the colleges’ first graduation. Dr. Lozier was going to see over two hundred women graduate (219 to be exact) during her tenure at the helm of the college (5). The faculty during that first year consisted of eight doctors, four women and four men.
Considering the times, admission standards were high as the new school required women to study for three years with a licensed physician, and attend two courses of lectures at an incorporated medical college with the last course being at the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women.
By the session of 1868-9, ten professors, one demonstrator and one lecturer comprised the faculty and thirty- three students graduated that session. During the first six years of its existence the school sent 45 graduates into practice.
Buoyed by this success, premature acquisition of property for further development was undertaken in 1874. I say premature because this venture met with failure due to unfavorable financial conditions which swept America during that decade (6). In financial straights, the property had to be sold and the college relocated to temporary and inadequate quarters at Lexington Avenue and 37th Street. This period of time was difficult, yet the college did not close. This temporary residence was replaced, in 1881, with leased property at, W. 54th St. between Broadway and 7th Ave., and the school remained there for some twenty years. Ten women matriculated in 1882, eight in 1883, eight in 1884 and thirteen in 1885. It was clear that the college suffered but it did manage to stabilize.
During the 1880’s the college continued to consolidate. The creation of an alumni association in 1880 helped this consolidation process enormously. Money was raised and a cadre of tight-knit supporters coalesced. Another important agent for this institution was the Hospital Guild which raised, at a minimum, $12,000 dollars for the college hospital. From the mid-1880’s through the 1902-3 college session, much energy was devoted to fund raising and the construction of a permanent home for the college. In 1897 suitable land was found at 101st Street west of Central Park and over the next five years, college and hospital buildings were erected. The college building was erected at an estimated cost of $25,000 and the hospital at $45,000. The reason why the hospital was nearly double in cost was the fact that building ordinances required hospitals to be fire proof. (N.B. The illustration in this article is the west part of the new college building. It was occupied in October of 1898)
Dr. Lozier was the youngest of thirteen children and cousin of the esteemed practitioner and philosopher of homeopathy, Carroll Dunham. She attended lectures at the Rochester Eclectic Medical College, Rochester, NY and graduated, in 1853 at the age of 40, with highest honors in her class from the New York Central Medical College (Syracuse, NY) an eclectic institution (7). She commenced private practice directly after graduation. It was said about her that, “[H]er intuitive discernment, quick sympathy, gracious tact and gentle patience, added to her inherited talent for the practice of medicine, fully fitted her for the profession.” She married at the early age of seventeen and studied medicine under the direction of her brother, Dr. Willian Harned. It is said that her mother was quite able in the sick-room and even doctors called on her for advice. In 1837, her husband died, and though she was 24 at the time, she continued her informal studies with her brother. In the early 1830’s she conducted a school for young ladies in her home discussing hygiene and anatomy and physiology.
On or about 1844, she relocated to Albany and there, unfortunately, married John Baker, an alcoholic. Despite the following difficult years she continued her charitable work which had begun in New York City with the Moral Reform Society. The burden of a drunken husband proved too much for her and in 1861 she applied for and received a divorce. It was not an easy thing to obtain a divorce on those grounds during that period of time. She credited her ability to survive these hard times, in part, to Elizabeth Cady Stanton who offered encouragement and support. Dr. Lozier corresponded with Ms. Stanton and recalls that support:
“[A]t a period when I was in the depths of despair, crippled in every effort for self-support of self development by an unworthy husband. That letter came to me like a clarion call, to rise up, sunder such unholy ties, and walk forth to freedom. It filled me with the courage to do what I had long seen to be my duty.”
-Mitchell, p. 47
In the midst of this turmoil she managed to enroll, study and graduate from medical college after which she returned to New York City to commence her practice. This practice grew rapidly not only because of her abilities but because there were so few well trained women doctors. She was very successful, financially, and attained annual incomes in the neighborhood of $25,000. In 1860, she started to offer educational lectures to patients, primarily women, on anatomy, physiology and hygiene. These lectures were so popular that they ultimately lead her to found ‘her’ college. She never received a fee for all her years of service at the college and donated large sums of her own money over the years. She was also quite active in organizational endeavors. Lozier’s work was supported by suffragist and hospital board trustee, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was also a firm supporter of sectarian medicine (8). Ms. Stanton was president of the National Women’s Suffrage Association. In the words of Ms. Stanton:
“Having known Dr. Clemence Lozier for nearly thirty years, and been associated with her in earnest endeavor to secure for women a foothold in the medical profession, I have many delightful memories of the hours passed in her society. Before seeing her I had heard much of her sweetness as a woman and of her skill as a physician. …Her hospitality was generous and undiscriminating. She not only entertained those whose society she enjoyed, but many who were a severe tax on her patience and charity. Her house was indeed a haven of rest to the wayworn and desolate. She gave alike freely bread to the hungry and money to the needy. …Fortunately for her success, Dr. Lozier was in all respects an attractive woman. She had a wellformed head, luxuriant hair, fine features, a sweet expression, and most winning manners. She had a personal dignity that always commanded the respect of those about her. …I once spent six weeks in her house, and seeing that many patients who flocked to her for relief, and listening to her advice, I became so enthusiastic about the health of woman that I attended an entire course of lectures at the college and gained much valuable information, which in season and out of season I have given to other women. …As soon as a measure of success crowned her efforts, then men became most pertinacious in their attentions and were determined to dominate her and the funds she raised to carry out her projects. …Her successes far outnumber her trials, and her influence for good will be felt more and more as the years roll on. The world is better through what she has suffered, and her life must be a new inspiration to woman.”
-King, p. 153,4,5
Aside from her uphill battle to establish the medical school, Clemence was also a suffragist and human rights activist. She was president of the New York Woman’s Suffrage Society (9) for thirteen years. She held monthly meetings of the anti-slavery society at her home and as secretary of the Female Guardian Society, she visited New York prisons and slums to rescue and/or give charity to destitute women and children. Susan B. Anthony, whose doctor was homeopath Julia Holmes Smith, knew Dr. Lozier and the two gave sustenance to one another. Dr. Lozier provided generous financial support ($50 per week, quite a sum back then) to Anthony’s suffrage publication, ‘Revolution’, when the paper needed it. Aside from Anthony, Stanton and other noted reformers, Wendell Phillips, Hamilton Wilcox, Mr. and Mrs. Gerritt Smith, often attended Lozier’s parlor meetings. By the way, President Garfield supported homeopathy and enjoyed the professional services of a homeopath, Susan Edson, M.D. (10).
Lozier had a very successful medical practice. She was often called in consultation by leading physicians of the day. Dr. Jacobi, V. Mott, Carroll Dunham, Dr. Sims, Dr. Carnochan and others often relied on her judgments.
All of Dr. Lozier’s children died in early infancy except for her seventh and last son, Abraham Witton Jr. He became a physician and married twice (see note 10).
For a number of years Dr. Lozier had suffered from angina pectoris. This malady finally caught up with her as she died two days after delivering the commencement address to the class of 1888.
“An incident connected with her funeral, worthy of note, is that six women physicians, niece, grandnieces and cousin, all descendants of her brothers, followed her remains into the church. Fortyeight women physicians, graduates of the college which she founded, passed her coffin and took their last look at her sweet face, and dropped into the casket a sprig of arbor vitae as their tribute of love.
-King, p. 155
Dr. Lozier was ably succeeded by Phoebe J.B. Wait (alumnus 1871). Dr. Wait served her alma mater immediately upon graduation. She worked in the business department and in 1880 succeeded L.L. Danforth as the Chair of Obstetrics, then became Dean upon the untimely death of Clemence. During her tenure, Dean Wait adopted the four years graded course of medical studies. It is said that she knew every student by name, knew ‘all their trials and perplexities’, and her inspiring personality helped many a discouraged student. Dr. Wait, interestingly enough, took up the study of medicine after being inspired by the medical college’s commencement address given by Rev. S.H. Ling. Aside from her enormous collegiate work, she was President of the Society for Promoting the Welfare of the Insane and often went before the state legislature to argue for that mistreated segment of society. One particular cause, and there were many which she took up, was the passage of an act to provide a woman physician for women patients in hospitals for the insane. She communicated with virtually every medical college in the country to encourage them to establish a Chair of Mental and Nervous Diseases so that young physicians would be better prepared to deal with the mentally ill. I quote Dr. Wait:
“Upon the same principle that police stations each have a matron for the care of the women inmates, every almshouse, workhouse, prison, reformatory or hospital for the insane where women are kept should be provided with competent women physicians for all women inmates. It is sorrowful enough to think of these vast armies of women being shut away from the world for sickness or for vice, without friends or hope or comfort, but it is still more so to think that with women physicians all about, humanity should not open its eyes to the absolute importance of placing them wherever women are being cared for in institutions which are philanthropic, correctional or reformatory. This idea, which is so strongly fixed in my mind, is not shared by the popular mind, and it appeals to me that the mission of women physicians, and all of those who believe in the wisdom of women practicing medicine, should be to advocate a reform which shall require every public institution where women are cared for, to employ for them women physicians in case of sickness. In New York state alone there are ten thousand women being cared for to-day in hospitals for the insane, and only one woman physician to each hospital. In the United States there are in round numbers sixty thousand insane women in the hospitals for the insane, and all of these should be treated by women physicians.”
-King, p. 156,7.
Dr. Wait was quite an avid writer, publishing many articles in lay and professional journals. To counter her tireless activities she spent the summer months in relaxation at the seashore, Noye’s Beach, RI. Despite her appearance of good health, in the midst of a luncheon, she was taken ill. Her diagnosis was pneumonia which rapidly spread to overcome her on Sunday morning the thirtieth of January 1904. Dr. Wait served as Dean of the Faculty from 1888-1896.
The Deanship passed to Dr. Jennie de la Montagnie Lozier (alumnus 1878) in 1896, and then two years later to M. Belle Brown, M.D. (alumnus, 1879) (10). Dr. Brown stayed on after graduation to become an instructor of chemistry and physiology and then professor and clinician of women’s diseases. She served as Dean until at least 1905. Two more women served as Dean, Helen C. Palmer and Emily C. Charles, before Cornelia Chase Brant became the last Dean in 1914 (12).
In 1895, another ordinance of re-incorporation was admitted which, among other things, established the college as a part of the University of the State of New York. This action was a validating stamp of approval as it came from an official body. Furthermore, all diplomas granted were signed by the college trustees and faculty and the New York Board of Regents.
This institution which ably served the people, did not last much longer. In 1918, as homeopathy suffered its decline, the college finally ended its service, as many women’s medical colleges did, by merging with another medical school. In this instance, the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, later called the New York Medical College of the Flower and 5th Avenue Hospitals (see note 3).
The New York Medical College and Hospital for Women, despite the troubled middle period, survived, if for no other reason than it’s strong women and their lucid sense of purpose. It was the first and last homeopathic medical school for women in New York City and, if anything, should serve as an inspiring slice of history for us all. Homeopathy owes much to Dr. Clemence Sophia Lozier and to the women homeopaths of that era.