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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Florence King, M.D. (?-1895)

In addition to doctors Lydia Hunt King, Mae Cardwell, Helena J. Price and Viola Coe (to be profiled tomorrow) Florence King was one of the five women to be members of the original Portland women's medical society of 1891-1892. A graduate of Wooster (Ohio) University Medical School in 1879, she married homeopathic physician Samuel Lewis King. IN 1890 the Portland City Directory listed them both as practicing in their home office at 195 1st in Portland. Florence King died on May 2, 1895 in Portland, just four years after the founding of the women's medical society.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Elusive Helena J. Price, M.D.

Yesterday I went to the Oregon State Archives in Salem to gather some additional information about Esther Clayson Pohl Lovejoy's extended family on the Clayson side and the Pohl side. I came away with more great information to weave into the biography.
While there I also wanted to check for additional information on Helena J. Price, another of the five women in the first Portland women's medical society 1891-1892 that I'm profiling on this and my Oregon Women's History blog.
Price is listed in the 1880 census as a 24 year old teacher in Portland, Oregon married to William R. Price, born about 1856 in Washington Territory. She attended the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduated in 1886, and served a residency at the Blockley charity hospital in Philadelphia. She came to Portland around 1889; her application for membership in the Oregon State Medical Society was accepted that July. She's listed in the Portland City Directory as a practicing physician from 1890 through the 1899-1900 edition.
From later notes made by her colleague Mae Cardwell (part of the Lucy Davis Phillips Collection at the Historical Collections & Archives at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland) that Olof Larsell consulted for his 1947 book The Doctor in Oregon we learn that Price specialized in diseases of the skin (p 417). But these notes also suggest that Price died in 1892 and that her death was the cause of the "disintegration" of the Portland women's medical society
But evidence from the Portland City Directory places Price in Portland through the end of the 1890s. Did Cardwell mean Lydia Hunt King, who died in 1900? Perhaps Florence King, (to be profiled here soon) another of the five women in the first Portland medical society who died in 1895?
I had the expert help of reference archivist Austin Schulz but we could not find additional traces of Helena J. Price in the State Archives holdings. I've contacted the archives of the former Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania and hope they will have more information about her. But for now, we know that she was a part of the first group of five women to establish a medical society in Portland. I've profiled Hunt King, Cardwell, and Price, and in the coming days will post more about the two other women, Florence King and Viola Coe.
And in the meantime, if you have more information about Helena J. Price please do let me know.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mae Whitney Cardwell, M.D. (1853 -1929)

I'm at work on materials concerning early women physicians and their medical societies in Portland for my biography of Esther Lovejoy. On the Oregon Women's History Blog ( I've posted information on Mae Whitney Cardwell, another of the five women physicians who were part of the first women's medical society in the West,the Portland Women's Medical Society of 1891-1892.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lydia Hunt King, M.D. (1837-1900)

This week I am working on a chapter for the Esther Pohl Lovejoy biography that deals with women in early medical societies in Oregon and the nation. Portland women doctors established the first all-female medical society in Western states in 1891 (and the third women's medical society in the nation) and the five women members met for just over a year. This group was short-lived, but in 1900 women doctors in Portland, including two of the original group, revived what they called the Portland Medical Club. Esther Pohl was active in this second group and was its president in 1905 when both the American Medical Association and the National American Woman Suffrage Association held their annual conferences in Portland to coincide with the Lewis and Clark Exposition. Pohl's speech at the exposition will be a key part of this chapter.

But there are many details that I can't include in the book, so I'd like to share some information about some of the early women doctors in the 1891 society. I'll also be posting this to my Oregon Women's History blog at

Lydia Hunt King, M.D.(1837-1900) was one of these five Portland women physicians active in this first women’s medical society. She was also a leader in the movement for women’s right to vote in Oregon.

A graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1881, Lydia Hunt came to Portland to establish a medical practice in 1883 and married Samuel Willard King, a former educator who turned to business and founded the department store of Olds, Wortman and King in Portland. Hunt King joined the Oregon State Medical Society in 1884 and presented a paper on “Attention to Little Things in Normal Labor” at the 1889 annual conference of the association. She was one of five members of the original Portland Women’s Medical Society, which she joined in the fall of 1891.

In 1894 she became president of the newly-revived Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association and in July published an open letter “To the Friends of Equal Suffrage in the Northwest” announcing the “revival of our work in the Pacific Northwest” and inviting supporters to weekly meetings at the home of Abigail Scott Duniway, secretary of the OSWSA. At a OSWSA meeting in August, the Oregonian reporter noted her “sparking 10-minutes’ talk” in which she spoke “from a physician’s standpoint” and “held the right of self-government was inherent in all female life, and the times were out of joint because this principle was not recognized in the human species.” Hunt King resigned the OSWSA presidency later that fall due to ill health. She died March 10, 1900 following a four year illness. Her obituary, from the Oregonian, March 11, 1900, 24 appears below.


Joseph Gaston, Portland, Oregon: Its History and Builders vol. 2 (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1911): 244-45.
Proceedings of the Oregon State Medical Society 11 (1884): 97.
Proceedings of Oregon State Medical Society 16 (1890): 218-222.
Mae Cardwell Notebook “Early Women Physicians of Oregon. Cardwell. Excerpted by K.C. Mead, January 1930,” 23, Lucy Davis Phillips Collection, Historical Collections & Archives, Oregon Health & Science University.
“Woman Suffrage; An Open Letter Through the Press by the O.S.W.S.A.,” Oregonian, July 5, 1894, 3.
“Equal Suffragists,” Oregonian, August 20, 1894, 5.
“Dr. Lydia Hunt King,” Oregonian, March 11, 1900, 24.