Original Document
Original Document
Ann Preston, M.D., "Valedictory Address to the Graduating Class of the Pennsylvania Medical College for Women; March 16, 1864,"

This graduating class numbered in its record young ladies whose families are among the eminent of the land, thus showing that the profession is becoming honorable and being sought by those who might live at ease if duty had not impelled them to serve in the cause of feminine sufferings and wrongs. The Address is proof of the high standard of talent and wise judgment of woman. Doctress Preston is an honor to the womanhood of the profession, as the extracts from this beautiful Valedictory will prove. We have room for only a few detached paragraphs, but hope these will induce oar readers to send for this admirable Address.
"From year to year the number of ladies engaged in the study of medicine has been steadily increasing, and from various towns and cities we are frequently receiving the inquiry, 'Can you not send us a reliable lady physician?' So, ladies, in the fulness of time you are here. From homes in crowded cities and in quiet country places, from different States, and from under the influence of various religious denominations, you have been brought by one common impulse."
"As an advance towards a higher and purer condition of society, this movement has been hailed by noble minds, not only upon this side of the Atlantic, but also in Europe. Sir John Bowring– in a letter to a relative and correspondent in this country, who has kindly furnished the extract– echoes the sentiment of others, when he says, 'Your American women are pioneering into many regions where they will fix their standard with honor to themselves and benefit to their race. This medical movement of theirs is worthy of all encouragement, and will, I hope, be crowned with abundant success. It is a step not from, but towards decency and decorum.'"

"The virtues, affections, and graces of the true woman will find beautiful scope and culture in the enlarged sphere of your daily activities. From the nature of your professional relations your pathway cannot be isolated. The intelligent and refined will be your associates, and among those who confide in you and sustain you; and the trust and affection of those whom you may benefit, will feed and warm your own hearts."
"The purity, gentleness, dignity, and courtesy of the Christian woman, united with that knowledge of the human organization, and of the influence of daily habits and surroundings upon the health of the body and mind, possessed by the accomplished physician, will insure attention to your suggestions in regard to practical and personal details; and these suggestions, doubtless, will often prove to those who consult you, the most important part of your professional services."
"As women, you will occupy peculiar and close relations to the rest of your sex. The difficulty of communicating freely in regard to symptoms, has often prevented suffering women from availing themselves successfully of the skill of medical men. In your case, this impediment will be greatly lessened, and the public has a right to expect from you increased success in the treatment of some classes of diseases."

"Entering the sanctuaries of families, ministering at the sacred altars of life, knowing the secrets of sad hearts, and the needs of yearning humanity, we can ask for you no deeper blessing than that you may prove equal to the glorious opportunities, 'to do good and to communicate,' which are opening before you."


An American gentleman writing from England says:–

"A lady was admitted to full practice in the medical profession this week, she having passed her examination at Apothecaries' Hall, with great success. This is the first instance of the kind in this country.
So the good work progresses. The two Anglo-Saxon nations seem now agreed in the attempt to restore woman the office which nature and nature's God give to her– Midwifery. How strange that only in these two Protestant nations, which have the Bible in their households, this office, that GOD'S WORD gives to the gentle sex, should have been claimed by men! Perhaps, when they restore it, she will find her recompense in the more thorough medical education she will be obliged to attain; thus good will come out of what has been the source of great sufferings and evils.

England has not led the way in this good work, she has only followed America. About fourteen years ago a Medical College for Women was established in Philadelphia, and soon after another was chartered in Boston. Both colleges have now a firm hold on public sympathy. Other colleges have received young ladies, and, probably, there is now as many as three hundred graduates with the full honors of M.D. among the noble womanhood of our Republic.

We hope, for the, honor of our sex, that these gentle M.D.'s will insist on retaining their womanhood in their profession, and never assume the style and title of man as Doctor, when their own Doctress is better and more elegant, being delicate, definite, and dignified. All assumptions are mean because they are false or frivolous. We do not want female physicians, that compound term signifying an animal man; we want cultivated, refined feminine physicians, known as Doctresses for their own sex and children, and conservers of domestic health and happiness.

The New England College has wisely adopted the feminine termination in their diplomas; their graduates style themselves Doctress, writing the title Drss.– so that they will not need an explanation or circumlocution to express their womanhood. One truth is sure; a lady can never elevate herself by becoming manlike or making pretences to be so. She must keep her own place, cultivate her own garden of home. Eve was created in Eden, Adam in the outside world. The daughters of America must guard their Eden name and its equivalents, and make these significant of grace, goodness, and glory, or they will never reach the perfection of their nature as "polished stones" in the grand edifice of Christian Nationalities.

Credit: Published with accompanying note on "The Medical Education of Woman" in Godey's Lady's Book, Vol. LXIX (July 1864), p, 85.
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