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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.