Irish women in medicine, c.1880s–1920s

Origins, education and careers

Laura Kelly

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ISBN: 978-0-7190-8835-3
Subject Area: History
BIC Categories: British & Irish history, History of medicine
Published: February 2013
234 x 156 mm
240 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Description
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Reviews
  • This book is the first comprehensive history of Irish women in medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It focuses on the debates surrounding women’s admission to Irish medical schools, the geographical and social backgrounds of early women medical students, their educational experiences and subsequent careers. It is the first collective biography of the 760 women who studied medicine at Irish institutions in the period and, in contrast to previous histories, puts forward the idea that women medical students and doctors were treated fairly and often favourably by the Irish medical hierarchy. It highlights the distinctiveness of Irish medical education in contrast with that in Britain and is also unique in terms of the combination of rich sources it draws upon, such as official university records from Irish universities, medical journals, Irish newspapers, Irish student magazines, the memoirs of Irish women doctors, and oral history accounts.
    1. Debates surrounding women’s admission to the medical profession
    2. The admission of women to the KQCPI and Irish medical schools
    3. Becoming a medical student
    4. Women’s experiences of Irish medical education
    5. Careers and opportunities
    6. Trends in the careers of Irish women doctors: emigration, marriage and the First World War
    7. Medical lives: case-studies of five Irish women medical graduates
    8. Conclusions
    Appendix 1: Methodology
    Appendix 2: Biographical index
    Appendix 3: Additional tables
    Laura Kelly is Lecturer in the History of Health and Medicine at the University of Strathclyde
    This volume injects some overdue energy into this important topic. It is meticulously researched, well written and offers scholars a number of research avenues worth pursuing, but also a rich ‘Bibliographical Index’ which alone could generatenew projects and findings. Even without this valuable 37-page section, this book would be the most comprehensive study of women medical professionals in Ireland. It should easily find a place on medical history readings lists, but would be a worthy addition to broader courses on women’s history and the history of education. Interesting take on women’s history in Ireland. Kelly’s work is alive to the particularities of the Irish context that gave women different opportunities, and her work is very valuable for this reason.
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