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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Esther Clayson's Medical School 1890-1894 -- Obstetric Manikins

Esther Clayson [later Pohl Lovejoy] entered the University of Oregon Medical Department in 1890; after her first year the working class young woman had to return to department store work to replenish her savings. She resumed her studies in 1892 and completed her three-year course in 1894.
In her memoir "My Medical School," written in 1957, Lovejoy recalled that Dean S.E. Josephi lectured on obstetrics in these years by using a leather manikin. Lovejoy called it "a saving substitute for sentient flesh." Obstetrical manikins came into use in the 18th century for training midwives -- the Dittrick Museum of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland has a rare example from the period.
By the 1890s there were a number of models in use. Pictured below is one that perhaps resembled Josephi's manikin, found in J. Clifton Edgar, "The Manikin in the Teaching of Practical Obstetrics," New York Medical Journal (December 27, 1890), 705.
Lovejoy recalled that "all kinds of cases were demonstrated, and only a leather mother and child could have survived the instrumental deliveries of the athletes in our class."

"My Medical School" was published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly 75 no. 1 (March 1974) after Lovejoy's death with an introduction by Bertha Hallam, the medical school librarian extraordinaire. It is a vital source for me as I'm writing Lovejoy's biography. And thanks to two extradordinary archivists, Sara Piasecki and Karen Peterson at the Historical Collections & Archives at OHSU, the typescript of her memoir "My Medical School (1890-1894) As I Remember," is available at the OHSU digital collections.