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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sara Marquam Hill, Presidential Address, Portland Medical Club, 1902

Esther Pohl was not the only president of the Portland Medical Club to deliver an historic address. Three years before Pohl greeted the National American Woman Suffrage Association at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, Portland physician Sara Hill, M.D., an 1890 graduate of the Willamette University Medical Department, ended her presidency of the Portland Medical Club with a memorable address. In October 1902, as she concluded her year as president, Marquam Hill and the women physicians of Portland had something to celebrate. That May Dr. Mae Cardwell had been accepted as the first woman in the City and County Medical Society of Portland, which had barred female members since its organization in 1884. Several months after this speech, in January 1903, Esther Pohl, C. Gertrude French, Kittie Plummer Gray, Ethel L. Gray, Edna Timms, Elsie Deputy Patton, Sarah Whiteside, Jessie M. McGavin, Eugenia Little, and Sarah Marquam herself accepted membership in the society. (Stay tuned for more on the question of society memberships and women physicians).

Sara Marquam Hill was the daughter of Philip and Emma Marquam; her father was a wealthy investor, Portland landowner and an Oregon legislator. Like Esther Clayson Pohl, she met her husband Charles E. Hill in medical school. They married in June 1890 after their graduation from the Willamette University Medical Department. According to Olof Larsell, Hill specialized in mental health and nervous disorders and was on staff at the Mountain View Sanitorium for much of her career. She died in 1957.

The following is the text of Sara Hill, “Presidential Address Read Before the Portland Medical Club, October 14, 1902,” Medical Sentinel 11 no.1 (January 1903): 21-23.


“Death Takes Dr. Sara Hill,” Oregonian, September 21, 1957, 7.

Portland City and County Medical Society,” Medical Sentinel 11 no. 4 (April 1903): 238.

Olof Larsell, The Doctor in Oregon: A Medical History (Portland: Binfords & Mort for the Oregon Historical Society, 1947), 417.