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The Story of Dr. Doris Bartuska: Sexism in Medicine during the 1950s to 1980s

 Digital history, From the collections  Comments Off on The Story of Dr. Doris Bartuska: Sexism in Medicine during the 1950s to 1980s
Aug 082017
 

-By Sabrina Kistler, Intern

Doris Bartuska, MD circa 1987.

As the granddaughter to a strong and influential woman physician, I never fully realized the fight women physicians underwent, and still face today, to bring society to a place of acceptance and equality for women in medicine. My grandmother, Dr. Doris Bartuska, worked throughout her career in endocrinology to best serve her patients, students, and ambitions, while dealing with sexism during the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. As a woman born in a small town, Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, she graduated with her medical degree from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1954 where she subsequently completed her internship and residency. She joined the WMC faculty in 1958 where she served as an Associate Dean for Curriculum, President of the Medical Staff, member of the Board of Directors, and President of the Alumni Association. In addition, Dr. Bartuska was the Director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism while also serving as the Director of the Endocrine Fellowship Training Program. Dr. Bartuska also believed in the importance of organized medicine, as shown by her roles as President of the American Medical Women’s Association, Delegate to the American Medical Association, President of the Philadelphia Medical Society, and many more. Throughout her career as a physician, teacher, and leader, she has helped pave the way for female physicians in the world today through her struggles against sexism in the medical community.

Doris Bartuska, MD during rounds circa 1983.

While medicine has since made long strides in accepting women into its community, that wasn’t the case 50 years ago. During her medical school interviews, Dr. Bartuska was asked questions such as “do you plan on getting married?” and “are you going to have children?” questions not remotely related to one’s qualifications to become a doctor. While these questions may have seemed harmless, their answers could have drastic impact on whether you would be accepted or denied into their school. Even when she attended Woman’s Med, an all female medical school, Dr. Bartuska still noticed the discrimination of women from pregnant medical students being picked on to female faculty members receiving lower wages and lacking support from male faculty chairs. Dr. Bartuska faced additional adversity during her fellowship at Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia, an all male medical school at the time, where she was called mommy Bartuska by her male peers. Eventually through her skill with consultations, she was able prove her worth and loose the nickname, but the lack of respect and acceptance she faced at the beginning would never be forgotten.

Doris Bartuska, MD receiving the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching circa 1974

Even throughout her professional career in organized medicine, Dr. Bartuska underwent many setbacks due to her gender. During her campaign for President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, she was the target of a smear campaign due to the fact that she was a women. Her fellow male colleagues would call saying they heard negative things about her, most likely of a sexual nature, eventually causing her to drop out of the race. While this attack could have been based on other factors besides her gender, if she had been elected she would have been the first female president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, suggesting her gender was at least partly the cause for this attack. Dr. Bartuska also frequently found her name being presumptuously changed to Boris Bartuska, a male name, showing that women were still not traditionally considered to be physicians even in the 70s. Whether through mail or the introduction for her American Medical Association speech, this male name followed her throughout her career. While announcing her has Boris Bartuska during her AMA delegation speech may have been surprising and reflective of the adversity she still had yet to face, it worked out in her favor and eventually got her elected as a delegate to the AMA.  Through her time with the AMA, she had worked with her fellow female delegates to increase the number of full time female delegates and to establish and grow the original Women’s Caucus, now the Women Physicians Section. 

While a smart and capable physician, Dr. Bartuska faced a lot of adversity throughout her life as a doctor. During her time in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, she experienced sexism towards women in both the professional and medical community. Although her experiences may not have been as severe as others that came before her, it is evident that women still faced many struggles only a short time ago. It is clear there is still work to be done for having women fully represented and equalized in the medical and professional world but it is through women like my grandmother that have lead us closer to the finish line for equality.

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Dr. Doris Bartuska’s archive collection can be found at The Legacy Center at Drexel College of Medicine’s Queen Lane Campus. Please use the following links for more information on her collection and transcripts for her two oral histories completed in 1977 and 2003.

Doris Bartuska Papers Finding Aid

Interview with Doris Bartuska, M.D., April 4 & 5, 1977

Oral History Interview with Doris Bartuska, M.D., May 15, 2003

If you would like to research any of these topics or items, please contact archives@drexelmed.edu

Impermanence

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Impermanence
Aug 082017
 

Guest blogger, intern Adeline Skovronek

From the quiet back room archives to the bustling floor of the Public Library there are stacks of books and papers, recording people real, imagined, and those floating somewhere in between. Everyone wants to be remembered, to have his name carved somewhere into eternity. You always think it’s just a lucky few – presidents, actors, authors. Their stories might seem forever, but what is really captured in such a public recounting of their lives? Digging through boxes retrieved from forgotten corners, I get to see the documents of people whose lives have otherwise been handed over to time, dumped in crates and marked as ordinary, average citizens. With the passing of the next century, their names will be erased, a new roster of appellations penciled in over clumsy eraser marks.

My interest in books and old papers of any origin was well established in grammar school, and by now soars high above the clouds. My first serious venture into the world of Libraries and Archives began in high school, where I volunteered in my school library. I worked almost every day shelving books, manning the circulation desk, or doing inventory. I debated with the biographies, danced with the poetry, and dreamed with the fiction. Then one day I left the main floor of the Library and moved into a small, dimly lit back room full of flat files and ceiling high shelves. There I first discovered the stacks of unopened yearbooks, the crumbling files of meeting minutes, and the undeveloped plans of a 100-year-old institution. It was a whole other world, lacking famous names like Fitzgerald, Marilyn, Kennedy. Instead the space was filled with personal details of individuals and struggling organizations. I was no longer an onlooker, holding the four-thousandth copy of a popular publication. I suddenly had in my hands the only existing version of a map from the 1700’s, a poem written on receipt paper, or the student papers of an Austrian girl stamped with the seal of the Third Reich.

~

What caught my attention while flipping through a box of rediscovered student records was the bright red seal, complete with raised lettering and toothed edges. The classic image of the eagle, wheat in one talon and arrows in the other, sat encircled by the words American Consulate General Vienna, Germany. My eyes moved instinctively to the two purple and blue seals farther up the page, and I immediately recognized the Nazi eagle gripping its swastika. I spent nearly an hour looking through this young woman’s file, entranced with the paper trial of her life. Granted, the file prompted more questions than answers about her departure from Nazi occupied Austria and subsequent medical career, but I was able to learn a great deal through the administrative and legal documents in the archive’s collection.

One of Dorothee’s documents with the US consulate seal reading ‘Vienna, Germany’

Dorothee Gold was born in 1916 in Stuttgart Germany to an American mother and German father. From 1934 until 1938 she attended the University of Vienna, where she took classes in preparation of a medical career. From her original school transcripts and their English translations, we can see her class lists, final grades, and even the speakers whose lectures she frequented. Lending more detailed information is also a small booklet, in which all of Dorothee’s classes were recorded.

Examination Certificate for General Biology from the University of Vienna – written in German

Examination Certificate for General Biology from the University of Vienna – translated into English

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Austria transitioned from unofficial to official Nazi governance, Dorothee applied to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Because of the overlapping time period – the day that officially marks the beginning of Nazi occupation in Vienna is March 12th, 1938 – her papers received official stamps before Germany took control, immediately after, and almost a year later. The result is that a wide range of stamps and seals can be found within her files, adding a dimension of intrigue and historical importance.

With her arrival in the United States, Dorothee Americanized her name – revising the spelling to Dorothea. Taking into consideration her eight semesters of medical school in Austria, WMCP admitted her into its second year class, and three years later she graduated in the summer of 1941 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine, under the name Doris Phillips.

 

 

 

 

Dorothee’s notebook from the University of Vienna. It includes lists of her classes and lectures, as well as records of the individual teachers and speakers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across the top of each page is listed details, including the months, year, and which semester of schooling she is currently attending.

 

 

 

 

 

The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania frequently sent out alumnae surveys, asking its former students to supply the institution with information on their career and family – if applicable. In Doris’s file are two such documents, from which most of the information regarding her professional career was gathered. According to these papers, Doris completed her residency in child psychiatry at the Cleveland City Hospital in Ohio. After her residency she held various positions, all related to the field of child psychiatry, in several hospitals and schools across the country.

 

 

 

Dorothea’s parents changed their last name from Gold to Phillips, and she did likewise – also changing her first name. This is the notice that was published in the local newspaper as part of the legal process of a name change.

 

 

 

In 1952 she married Dr. David Riddell Wheeler and changed her name one final time to Doris Phillips Wheeler. Practicing under her maiden name, she opened her own practice in Chicago, initially on a part-time basis. Over the next three years she gave birth to two children, while maintaining her practice and taking no considerable time off from work. For Doris the year of 1958 brought much change, seeing both the death of her husband and her graduation from the Institute of Psychoanalysis, Chicago. Over the following decade she raised her two children, while consulting for various institutions, including the Michael Reese hospital, Evanston Family Agency, the Jewish Children’s Bureau, the Jewish Family and Community Service, Chicago State Hospital, and the Illinois Department of Mental Health.

Doris died on October 28th, 1968, leaving behind her two adolescent children.

~

Working in an archive, I am frequently left to marvel at the amount of information individuals and institutions leave behind. I often find myself wondering what purpose they serve in the larger machinations of the universe. Sometimes I feel like such detailed records of what usually appear irrelevant materials simply bog us down, but other times I am inspired by the personal glimpses into past events that such chronicles preserve.

For now, I remember such details, as they are, of the life of Doris Phillips Wheeler. Eventually, I will forget. And who’s to say how long it will be until another party opens that box, that file, and takes the time to scrutinize each document. And how many other boxes are there, stuffed and bursting round the edges, containing the minutes of somebody’s life? I like to think that I held in my hands a unique story, unparalleled in its existence. But really, how many countless young women have fled their countries, surrounded by tensions of war, to look elsewhere for brighter horizons? It is the stuff of history.

“Modern Miracle Women: Dr. Catharine Macfarlane a Leader in the Fight Against Cancer

 From the collections  Comments Off on “Modern Miracle Women: Dr. Catharine Macfarlane a Leader in the Fight Against Cancer
Apr 182017
 

– Exhibit by guest blogger, intern Jessica Walker

All materials from the Catharine Macfarlane Collection, unless noted in gallery at bottom

Although routine pelvic and breast exams are standard now, that hasn’t always been the case.  In the early 20th century, doctors commonly thought that healthy women wouldn’t submit themselves to periodic examination without cause.  Dr. Catherine Macfarlane, however, thought that the modern American woman would, and she was going to prove it.  In 1938 she received a grant from the American Medical Association to study periodic examinations to detect early appearances of carcinoma.  The study lasted for 15 years.  Dr. Macfarlane made a lasting impact on early cancer screening and prevention.  Pelvic and breast exams are now a routine part of female physical health.  Through the research clinic operated by Dr. Macfarlane, it was proved that early, routine examinations lead to early detection, and therefore treatment, of many types of cancers specific to women.

 

In July 1937 Catharine Macfarlane attended the Medical Women’s International Association Fourth Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. There she participated in a discussion on the screening and prevention of pelvic cancer. She lamented that many of the doctors participating found it unlikely that women in their countries would not submit to preventative screenings. American women, she thought, would, and she set out to prove it by opening the first cancer prevention clinic in Pennsylvania, one of the first in the country.

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Dr. Macfarlane was often praised as one of the forerunners in the fight against cancer.  The Cancer Control Research Clinic operated by herself, Dr. Margaret Sturgis and Dr. Faith Fetterman began in 1938 and involved a study of over 1,300 women.  By the time Dr. Macfarlane closed the research clinic, over 200 such centers existed around the country.

 

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Throughout the study, Doctors Macfarlane, Sturgis and Fetterman published several articles on their findings from the clinic.  This was one of the first articles, published in the Medical Women’s Journal in 1942.

 

 

Doctors Catharine Macfarlane and Margaret Sturgis at the Cancer Control Research Clinic, circa 1959

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to doing the work of research on the positive effects of early screenings and writing papers, Dr. Macfarlane also gave talks on the results of the cancer prevention clinic.

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Macfarlane at an exhibit on cancer, circa 1949

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite what the doctors at the MWIA meeting thought, women in American were willing and eager to participate in preventative screenings.  The experiment was a resounding success.  It drew the attention of not only medical professionals, but laypeople as well.  The results of the prevention clinic were reported on by newspapers and magazines from around the country.

 

 

from the Cancer Bulletin, circa 1951

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though her initial focus was on pelvic exams, Dr. Macfarlane expanded the focus of the research clinic in the 1950s to include a study of breast exams and self-examination performed by the women themselves.  She found that women were able to detect abnormalities just as soon as a doctor could.

 

Exhibit Gallery:

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On the Evolution of Meeting Minutes: Formality and Degrees of Richness

 From the collections  Comments Off on On the Evolution of Meeting Minutes: Formality and Degrees of Richness
Jan 192017
 

-by guest blogger, intern Jessica Walker

Though to some meeting minutes may seem routine, and perhaps even mundane, that is precisely why they are so fascinating.  Minutes are found within most organized groups, allowing for a common format to compare across time, distance, and even topic.

The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia was founded in 1868 as an educational organization for those who were interested in “the diseases and problems particular to women.”[1]  Of particular interest within this collection is the minutes of the Society, which contain a range of detailed descriptions of meetings as well as parliamentary procedure followed by the organization.  As all things do over time, the Society evolved, and the changes in the structure and leadership of meetings are reflected within the meeting minutes of the Society.

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Bound volumes of meeting minutes

Physically and intellectually, the meeting minutes and documents undergo a significant transition from the founding of the Society to present.  The early minutes, ranging from 1879 to 1923, were hand written in bound (unpublished) volumes.  They contain detailed dialogues, recording a paraphrase of who said what and on what topic.  Dialogues and discourses taking place during the meetings included topics such as a woman who gave birth to five children in one year around 1880 or a case where the umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck of an infant and the results of such.

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Minutes from a meeting dated December 1879

From the minutes, we can tell that each meeting dedicated significant time to case studies, autopsy specimens, and discussion, which reveal fascinating insights into the minds of medical professionals of the day.  It is because the minutes are so detailed that we are better able to interpret what a doctor may have meant when they used a particular phrase, or why a certain topic may have come up.  The observations provided by these minutes allow for valuable examination of changing medical thought, interests, and priorities up to the 1920s.

The minutes from the 1920s to 2009 thoroughly cover what happened during the meetings, but do not contain the depth of discussion as the early minute books.  Later meeting papers offer more formal, parliamentary procedure style minutes, as many meeting records seem to do.  Although these types of minutes are still extremely useful in tracking what organizations were talking about at any given point in time, the uniqueness of an organization seems to be lost when parliamentary style minutes take over.  Per usual, the meeting was opened with the reading of previous meeting minutes, which then flowed into the “scientific program” portion of the meeting, followed by “private business” (consisting of reports on membership and committees), and closed with new and/or unfinished business.

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122 years later, meeting minutes from May 2001

Of particular interest in this portion of the meeting minutes is the detailed topics covered during these scientific programs.  Speakers presented papers on topics such as laparoscopic surgery or pregnancy following the amputation of the cervix, as well as hosting events where several speakers discussed broader topics, such as sexual education.  As interesting as the topics are, often what we learn from the minutes is that they happened, but not what the response was.  Fortunately, the Obstetrical Society did record some of these scientific sessions, and some of the recordings are preserved at the Legacy Center Archives.

From founding to present, the meeting minutes of the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia have had some aspect of parliamentary procedure woven into the meetings.  However, it is when procedure begins to take precedence over content that the individual voices of an organization can become muffled in the meeting minutes.  Though the minutes of the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia vary in depth and detail over time, they allow for a comprehensive look into the functioning of a medical society.  Minutes describe what is going on in an organization at any given time in varying degrees of detail, and often reflect the changing nature, order, and leadership of an organization.  This particular society is an excellent example.

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[1] “Constitution and bylaws.” (1998) Box 1, Folder 5, The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia records, 1868-2015, Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center Archives.

 Posted by on January 19, 2017

Hidden Collections 2015

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Hidden Collections 2015
Apr 132016
 

-by guest blogger, intern Daniel DelViscio

In 2015 I participated as an intern for the HCI-PSAR program hosted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR). I had processed a few collections before this for HSP, but as I think most archivists would agree each collection is its own animal, which is why we follow guidelines and not strict rules that allow for flexibility when processing. The two collections I worked on for this project were great examples of how collections can be totally different and in response you have to tailor your process in making sense of them for researchers. The Isabel Smith Stein collection on Elizabeth Cisney Smith was a collection of personal papers while the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown was a collection on a local chapter of a global philanthropic organization.

Elizabeth Cisney Smith in class

The first of these collections I worked on was at the Drexel College of Medicine Legacy Center: Archives and Special Collections. The Elizabeth Cisney Smith collection was one compiled by Dr. Smith’s children and detailed her life as a female doctor in the early 1900s. As you may imagine this collection was rich in content and I often found myself struggling with trying to adhere to MPLP (More Product Less Process) standards and not delve headfirst into each folder for the entire time I was working on it. The collection came in four well-maintained boxes and was already arranged into a semblance of order by Isabel Smith Stein, Dr. Smith’s daughter. The contents served as an account both biographically and autobiographically, of Dr. Smith’s life, and there was a definite narrative to the collection before I ever started working on it. Having this narrative colored my processing of the collection and I wanted researchers to be aware of the reason why the records were arranged that way while still being very usable.

Kiwanis Club charter night

The second collection was the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown, a collection housed at the Old York Road Historical Society. The Kiwanis Club is a global organization started in 1915 with volunteer labor and community improvement in mind. This collection contained materials for the Jenkintown chapter, which was chartered in 1949. The kinds of records that came with the collection were completely different than the Elizabeth Cisney Smith collection. In it I found an assortment of administrative records, financial records, and even a few plaques and loose photographs. The collection came to me with sparse labeling as to their contents aside from the folders housing the documents. In situations like these the processor needs to discern an order from the collection. This differed from The Elizabeth Cisney Smith collection in that right off the bat there was an attempt by Dr. Smith’s children, primarily Isabel Stein Smith, to arrange the collection in a certain order. This was not the case for the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown collection. When the collection came to me it was an assortment of records in no particular order, but as I delved into each box I found that an order naturally presented itself in the types of records I was finding. This discovery dictated how I was to order the collection, a task which was difficult, but ultimately very satisfying when I was able to step back and look at the complete set of boxes arranged nicely with their appropriate labels.

Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown unprocessed

In all I found the process of making sense of both the collections to be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Seeing the progression of loose materials in various formats find their way into an order that someone else can use is pretty gratifying. It strikes a similar chord if you’ve ever built something from Legos by looking at a picture of what you’re building.