Mrs. Medicine: Doctors’ Wives and the Making of Modern American Health Care

Kelly S. O’Donnell

National Institute of Medicine

Thursday, September 21, 2023 2:00 pm EDT

Online Event, Register Here.

7th annual Michael E. DeBakey Lecture in the History of Medicine: Marrying a doctor was presented as an aspirational goal for many young women in the twentieth century United States. For those who succeeded in securing a physician husband, however, married life was often hard work. From fundraising for hospital construction to waging political campaigns to answering patients’ phone calls, the doctor’s wife was an essential part of the growth of the American health care system as we know it. Drawing on a wide variety of NLM resources—particularly the publications of medical women’s auxiliary groups—this talk will argue that an understanding of marriage and domestic partnership has been an unfortunately neglected key element in our histories of medicine.