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Women's History Manuscript Collections at the Rubenstein Library

Science & Medicine Overview

Nurses sitting at a table studyingCollections listed in this category include the personal papers of women working in science and medical professions as well as those collections that document common medical practice during a certain time period. Additional information on childbirth, home remedies, and routine medical practices are often found in women's diaries, letters, and recipe books. 

The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection includes many books, manuscripts, and other materials documenting the scientific, medical, and technological accomplishments of women. As of 2017, these materials are being added to the library's online catalog on a regular basis.

See also:

18th Century Collections

Ann Henshaw Gardiner Papers, 1753-1981
Martinsburg, WV. Nursing educator. Personal, legal, and financial correspondence, clippings, pamphlets, photographs, writings and scrapbooks contain information on the early years of the Duke University School of Nursing and the nursing program at Duke University Hospital, as well as family history.

19th Century Collections

Clara Barton Papers, 1869
Washington, DC. Nurse, founder of the American Red Cross. Pocket diary documents her European travels in 1869. Included are calling cards of Barton, clippings and letter referring to her lecture schedule.

Louise Hortense Branscomb Papers, 1864-2002 and undated; (bulk 1984-1999)
Birmingham, AL. Physician. Medical notebooks recording cases of surgery on women where Branscomb assisted and concerning topics such as contagious diseases, tropical medicine, and obstetrics/gynecology. Also included are speeches delivered to the United Methodist Church on her life as a physician and the role of women in the church as well as correspondence with her parents.

Samuel Chapman Papers, 1800-1822; (bulk 1800-1815)
Charles County, MD. Financial ledger of lawyer and planter itemizes Chapman's extensive personal and business transactions including those with a midwife and free blacks.

William C. Holgate Papers, 1798-1911; (bulk 1799-1887)
Defiance, OH. Collection contains correspondence, 1872-1911, of Fannie Maud Holgate Harley which includes information on birth control, abortions, a small-pox epidemic, life in various women's academies, and routine family matters.

Sarah Wallis Bowdich Lee Papers, 1820s
England. Naturalist. Untitled manuscript narrating the history of African exploration and attempts to provide a survey of European knowledge in Africa ca. 1825.

Mary Norton Papers, 1852-1895
Highstown, NJ. Chiefly letters to Norton from Clara Barton documenting their friendship, attempts to administer relief services to wounded soldiers during the Civil War, and Barton's post-war speaking engagements.

Emma Juliana Gray Smith Letter book, 1843-1845
Liverpool, England and Pernambu, Brazil. Zoologist. Letters from the Smiths while on expedition in Brazil to collect various specimens of animal, insect and plant life give detailed descriptions of their journeys as well as local customs and manners.

20th Century Collections

Phyllis Chesler Papers, 1968-2003 and n.d.; (bulk 1970-1986)
New York, NY. Feminist psychologist and author. Research files and manuscript drafts for Chesler's books including Women and Madness; With Child; Mothers On Trial; and Sacred Bond. Also included as correspondence and subject files on various people and organizations pertaining to women's health and legal issues. Restricted.

Maria de Bruyn Papers, 1988-2012
Maria de Bruyn is a medical anthropologist who worked for non-profit organizations in The Netherlands and United States, as well as international non-governmental and United Nations agencies, in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with a special focus on HIV and AIDS and health-related human rights.

Ruth Ellen Grout Papers, 1934-1984
East Bridgewater, MA and Minneapolis, MN. Physician. Diaries, correspondence, and reports documenting her twenty-four years as a health education teacher at the University of Minnesota and her career as a medical consultant for the World Health Organization in Europe, Thailand, Africa, Kuwait, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

Elizabeth McMahan Papers, 1926-2010 and undated
Entomologist (termite biology), psychologist, cartoonist, writer of children’s books, ocean traveler; born 1924 in Davie Co. NC.; Duke alumna; and former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Professor of Biology.

Nina Cornelia Mitchell Papers, 1854-1958
Flushing, NY and Shepherdstown, WV. Largely family letters, genealogical materials, photographs, diaries and other papers concerning European travels; life in Europe during World War I; British hospitals and nurses; war work by women; life in Paris in the 1920s.

Ruth Gallert Newman Papers, 1933-1968
Chevy Chase, MD. Child psychologist. Correspondence, subject files, writings, research proposals, and reports concerning the education of emotionally handicapped and maladjusted children. Documents her work as an associate with the Child Research Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health; co-director of the School Research Program of the Washington School of Psychiatry; consultant for the Center of Youth and Community Studies at Howard University; and supervisor and consultant for the Hillcrest Child Center in Washington, D.C.

Louisa E. Rhine Papers, 1890-1983
Durham, NC. Restricted. Scientist. Diaries and journals, correspondence, writings, notebooks, genealogical papers and photographs document Rhine's professional life as a parapsychologist and includes information about the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory and the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, both founded by Rhine's husband, J. B. Rhine.

Zella Blakely Robinson Papers, 1902-1903
Clinton, SC. Nurse at the State Hospital for the Insane at Columbia S.C. Classroom notebook contains notes on obstetrics lectures delivered by Dr. Sarah C. Allan.

Eva J. Salber Papers, 1937-1990 and undated; (bulk 1967-1990)
Durham, NC. Physician and professor of community and family medicine. Correspondence, speeches, writings, clippings, photographs and printed materials related to Salber's extensive carer in the community health field. Particularly highlighted is her research concerning smoking in school children and the elderly in rural communities and her positions with the Martha Eliot Center in Boston and the Duke University Medical Center. Also included are background materials (tapes, transcripts, and photographs) for her two books The Mind is Not the Heart and Don't Send Me Flowers When I'm Dead (1983).

Gertrude Raffel Schmeidler Papers, 1943-1983
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Restricted. Parapsychologist. Correspondence and other materials generated by Schmiedler and others while conducting research into ESP and psychic phenomena.

Jessie Vanderbilt Simmons Papers, 1870-1936 and undated
Collection primarily documents Simons' travels through Europe during the 1920s and 1930s and her work with the Richmond County chapter of the American Red Cross Motor Corps. Twenty-nine yearly diaries detail daily life, family life, travel, participation in the Motor Corps, and other philanthropic activities. Correspondence with her children, family, and friends is also included; as are receipts, invoices, and other financial materials, primarily from travel to Europe; correspondence, printed materials, a scrapbook, and other items documenting Simons' service with the American Red Cross Motor Corps; material relating to friend, photographer, and fellow Motor Corps member Alice Austen; and photographs. Material in German includes receipts and invoices.

Christine Costner Sizemore Papers, 1952-1989; (bulk 1956-1979)
Herndon, VA. Restricted. Personal correspondence with family, friends, and physicians; clippings, diaries, writings, and audio-visual materials provide information concerning Sizemore's life as a multiple-personality patient and as an author (I'm Eve) and lecturer on mental health issues.