Student Life at the First Medical College for Women

The pioneering women who faced jeers and discrimination to become doctors.

In early November 1869, Anna Broomall, a student at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP), was passed a note. It had made the rounds among her male counterparts at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School before a clinical lecture at Pennsylvania Hospital. For the first time, WMCP students were to attend this lecture, which was an essential, hands-on experience for medical students. The message on the slip of paper was significant enough that Broomall kept it for more than 50 years: “Go tomorrow to the hospital to see the She Doctors!”

On Saturday, November 6, Broomall recalled, she arrived at the lecture along with 19 other young women. What happened next became known as the “Jeering Incident.”

“When we turned up at the clinic, in what was then the new amphitheater, pandemonium broke loose,” Broomall said in a later interview. “The students rushed in pell-mell, stood up in the seats, hooted, called us names and threw spitballs, trying in vain to dislodge us.” Joanne Murray, Historian and Director at the Drexel University Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections, describes another account: “The men greeted the women students with yells, hisses, caterwauling, mock applause, offensive remarks on personal appearance, etc.”


Student Life at the First Medical College for Women