One more post in honor of Ada Lovelace Day, who connects to many women in many different ways. I’m connecting Ada with Dr. Catherine Macfarlane. Had Ada been born a bit later, or Catherine Macfarlane earlier, Ada’s life may have lasted longer than her short 36 years.
The same year of Ada’s death, when women had few options for medical training, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later Woman’s Med) graduated its first class of eight women physicians. Its 46th class of women physicians graduated in 1898 and included Catherine Macfarlane.
In 1938 she co-founded the Cancer Control Research Project at Woman’s Med where women patients came in for regular pelvic examinations. The clinic was planned to run for five years but ultimately covered a fifteen-year period, providing data from over one thousand women. The project’s 1953 findings supported Macfarlane’s theory and indicated that regular exams could help detect cancer of the uterus early on. Macfarlane then helped establish the first uterine cancer screening in Philadelphia, one of the earliest programs in the country.