Held at: Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Elizabeth Cisney Smith was a physician who practiced for 35 years in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota and Maryland, from the time of her graduation from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1911 to her retirement in 1946. Dr. Smith was active in the women’s rights and the suffrage movement, and was one of the founding members of a regional chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Club in her town. Born on July 29, 1881 near Blair's Mills, in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, her initial education included enrollment at Dry Run Academy, Dickinson College, and State Normal School in California, Pennsylvania. At the State Normal School she met her future husband, Augustus Edwin Smith. When she was nineteen, Elizabeth began teaching, and at twenty two she and Augustus married and moved to a farm.
Three years later in 1906 the Smiths moved to Philadelphia where Augustus attended Jefferson Medical College. The registrar at the Jefferson Medical College informed Ms. Smith that the Woman’s Medical College was also in Philadelphia and suggested that she should enroll. While a student at the Woman’s Medical College, Smith became pregnant and due to the intervention by the Dean she was forced to enroll and pay for an additional year at the school. After her graduation in 1911, she still had to pass the Pennsylvania Medical board examination in order to be certified as a physician. When her results were posted in the newspaper in the headlines announced that she had achieved the second highest marks in the state.
Dr. Smith practiced for nine years in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh. During this time she became actively involved in women’s suffrage movement. In 1919, the family moved to Ohio where she was the founder and first president of a chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Club. She was the delegate to the national convention for the organization as well.
Dr. Augustus Smith died in 1934. In the following two years, Dr. Smith attended graduate courses at Harvard University, she sold the farm, and took a position in Harrisburg as the regional director of Maternal and Child Health in the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She left her position at the Pennsylvania Department of Health to move to North Dakota, but left shortly after due to a lack of funding. She moved frequently from 1936 to 1940, searching for work in the public health field and finding it difficult to secure any favorable positions.
The outbreak of World War II provided Dr. Smith dedicated work in Middle River, Maryland as the sole general practitioner. Thousands of aircraft workers came to work at the Glenn Martin bomber plant, which brought young mothers to the area and officials at Glenn Martin asked that Dr. Smith set up a practice for the workers and their families. She continued with this work until 1946, when she retired at the age of 66. She moved frequently around the U.S. and passed away on November 13th, 1965 in Boston, Massachusetts.
The collection was initially compiled and arranged by Isabel Smith Stein the daughter of Dr. Elizabeth Cisney Smith, and consists of 6 linear feet of material housed in 17 boxes. This collection dates from 1887 to 1972 and is composed of two main series: Elizabeth Cisney Smith and Isabel Smith Stein. There is evidence that this collection was compiled by Elizabeth's family (primarily Isabel) for the purpose of recording the life of their mother Elizabeth Cisney Smith.
The first series includes: Dr. Smith's personal history and background, personal correspondence (primarily with family), medical practice, materials related to her husband Dr. Augustus Edwin Smith, photographs and audio materials.
The second series, relating to Isabel Smith Stein, consists of: Isabel's biographical writings, stories and articles, correspondence, and research files on women in medicine.
The strength of this collection comes from Dr. Smith's memoirs and personal writings, which add depth to the collection with her detailed accounts of attending the Woman’s Medical College, her involvement in women’s suffrage, as well as dealing with the turbulent times of The Great Depression. Stein's biographical writings are influenced by her mother’s life and summarize the uniqueness of her mother as female doctor during the first half of the 20th century. The collection has an extensive amount of correspondence both from and to Dr. Smith with various sources (primarily her family), which support the memoirs.
Gift donated by Elizabeth Bouvier a grandchild of Drs. Elizabeth Cisney Smith and Augustus Edwin Smith.
This collection was processed as part of the HCI-PSAR Internship Pilot Program, facilitated by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) in winter of 2015. The HCI-PSAR project was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The HCI-PSAR Intern who processed this collection received guidance and supervision from professional archivists at the Drexel University Collecge of Medicine Archives and Special Collections.
- Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Daniel DelViscio
- Access Restrictions
Patient case histories in Medical Practice subseries are restricted.