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Delving into the archives for International Women’s Day

20 Feb 2020

Who were the first women graduates of Manchester Medical School?

Final year medical students 1904

International Women’s Day 2020 is fast approaching and volunteers at Manchester Medical Museum have taken this opportunity to search through the archives to find more about the first female graduates from Manchester Medical School.

As with many Universities at the time, in the early days Manchester (then called Manchester Victoria University) only admitted men into many of their programmes. However, in 1880 Manchester Victoria University received a charter to enable them to admit persons, 'male or female'

Unfortunately this did not come into effect immediately; it took much campaigning by the Manchester Association for the Higher Education of Women until in 1883, the University began to admit women into the arts and science departments. In 1898, the Medical School also began to admit women onto their programme.

  • Catherine Chisholm BA MB ChB MD CBE FRCP (1878-1952)  [pictured above: front row, centre left]
    The first woman to graduate from Manchester Medical School in 1904, Dr Chisholm then went on to work in maternity hospitals and children’s hospitals throughout her career. She help found the Medical Women’s Federation (1917) and the Manchester Paediatrics Society (1948) and was the first woman president of the British Paediatric Society.
  • Catherine Louisa Corbett MB ChB DPH (1877-1960) [pictured above: front row, centre right]
    Dr Corbett graduated and spent much of her career as a School Medical Inspector. However, when war broke out she faced it head on and joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals to provide medical services for wounded soldiers in Serbia and Russia.
  • Ethel Margaret Phillips BSc MB ChB MSc (1876-1951)
    After qualifying, Dr Phillips spent the majority of her life working in China, her mission was to improve the health and life of women and children – especially to fight tuberculosis, smallpox and malnutrition. Dr Phillips involved in not only medical work but also social work and joined feminist and political groups.

Want to celebrate International Women’s Day with the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health?

Come to our event on 5 March to hear Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow, Anita Shervington speak about #EachForEqual. Anita is inspired by the potential of STEM to improve the human condition and protect our planet, when driven by equity, diversity and inclusion and guided by Sustainable Development Goals.