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.
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The Longshore family was deeply active in Philadelphia medicine in the 19th century and involved in some of the earliest education of women in medicine in the United States. Joseph Skelton Longshore was a founder of the Female Medical College (later the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania Medical University. His sister Anna Longshore and his sister-in-law Hannah E. Myers Longshore were both members of the first graduating class of the Female Medical College.
Hannah E. Myers Longshore was born May 30, 1819 in Sandy Spring, Maryland, the daughter of Samuel and Paulina Myers who were Quakers originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Samuel Myers taught at a Quaker school in Maryland, then moved the family to Washington, DC. When Hannah was 14, the family moved again to New Lisbon, Ohio, in order to distance the family from slavery in the nation’s capitol. From an early age, Hannah was interested in science and hoped to become a physician. Her early education was obtained at New Lisbon Academy. Her plans to attend Oberlin College were thwarted by limited finances.
In 1844 at the age of 22, Hannah married Thomas Ellwood Longshore, a teacher at New Lisbon Academy. Thomas was born on November 11, 1812 on a farm in Middletown Township in Bucks County. A Quaker, he was a “staunch supporter of women’s education and social reform, [and] he supported his new wife’s plans to go to medical school” (National Library of Medicine). In 1845, he lost his teaching position due to his abolitionist convictions and he, Hannah and their two children, Channing and Lucretia Mott, moved to Attleboro, Pennsylvania where he again began teaching at a Quaker school.
Upon their arrival in Pennsylvania, Hannah began studying with Thomas’s brother, Joseph Skelton Longshore, a physician in Attleboro. Joseph, born September 18, 1809, obtained his education at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating at the age of 24. Joseph “was deeply interested in the medical education of women [therefore, she and his sister Anna were] privileged to use his library, and under his preceptorship [they] prepared for college,” (White, page 244).
Joseph determined that women’s medical education was weak and wrote and published Principles of Nursing in order to provide more thorough instruction. Moreover, he, with several other progressive Philadelphia physicians, worked on the establishment of a medical college for women. In 1849, “he prepared a draft for a charter for a college, and with the aid of his personal friend, James Flowers, a member of the assembly, procured its passage through the Pennsylvania Legislature,” (White, page 244). The Female Medical College was established in 1850 and the first class of students included both Anna Longshore (his sister) and Hannah E. Myers Longshore (his sister-in-law).
At Hannah’s graduation on December 30, 1851, Joseph S. Longshore gave the College’s first commencement address. Hannah was appointed demonstrator of anatomy in the Female Medical College, serving in that capacity from 1851 to 1852. In order to broaden her skills and “since the college had established a faculty-exchange system with the New England Female Medical College in Boston, [Hannah] next secured a job in Boston demonstrating anatomy from February to June 1852,” (National Library of Medicine). She returned briefly as demonstrator of anatomy at the Female Medical College.
In 1853, Joseph and Hannah left the Female Medical College. A mere three years after opening, “a change in the faculty brought discord, which caused [Joseph] to resign as lecturer,” (White, p. 244). This discord resulted from efforts to change the school from “eclectic” to “regular” and limit the teaching to “relatively restricted topics and inventions of the regular medical curriculum,” (Wells, page 180). After leaving the Female Medical College, Joseph helped found Penn Medical University, “an eclectic school that welcomed faculty of various medical persuasions and offered medical training to both men and women in separate departments,” (Well, page 180). Hannah, agreeing with Joseph, also left the Female Medical College and served as a demonstrator of anatomy at the Penn Medical University, Female Department, from 1853 to 1857. In 1858, Hannah began her own private practice, becoming the first woman doctor with a private practice in the city of Philadelphia. Despite her eventual success, Hannah’s early work in private practice was not without challenges: many male doctors would not consult with her, many pharmacists would not fill her prescriptions resulting in her having to make her own, and on one occasion, she was told to ‘go home and darn [her] husband’s stockings.’ Over the years, however, Hannah’s practice became very successful, and after forty years, she retired in 1892.
Joseph Longshore served as chair of obstetrics at the Penn Medical University until his death in December 1879. He remained active writing and publishing books on obstetrics and medical education for women. In his obituary, it was stated that, “to educate women in medicine was the leading desire of the last 30 years of his life [and] by his voice and pen, in private and public, he advocated and defended it amid great opposition,” ( New York Times).
Thomas Longshore died on August 19, 1898 in Philadelphia. Hannah died on October 19, 1901 at the age of 82. Their daughter, Lucretia Mott Longshore Blankenburg, was active in women’s rights.
National Library of Medicine. “Changing the Face of Medicine: Dr. Hannah E. Myers Longshore,” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_203.html), accessed May 9, 2011.
New York Times. “Founder of a Woman’s Medical College,” December 27, 1879.
Wells, Susan. “Women Write Science: The Case of Hannah Longshore,” College English, Volume 58, Number 2 (February 1991), pp. 176-191.
White, James T. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume V. New York: James T. White and Company, 1897.
The Longshore family papers includes material from Thomas Longshore, his brother Joseph Longshore, and his wife Hannah E. Myers Longshore. The collection, which consists of materials from 1819 to 1902, is divided into three series: "Hannah E. Myers Longshore," "Joseph S. Longshore," and "Thomas Longshore."
The "Hanna E. Myers Longshore" materials include autobiographical and biographical sketches of her life. The majority of these materials are handwritten. Also included in the series is a letter, a speech, several newspaper clippings and a lecture announcement for a course taught by Dr. Longshore.
The Joseph S. Longshore" materials include a biographical sketch, possibly written by Hannah E. Myers Longshore; correspondence with his brother Thomas E. Longshore; and his obituary.
"Thomas Longshore" materials include an autobiography, correspondence (including some correspondence from his wife, Hannah E. Myers Longshore) and manuscripts of the History of the Female College of Pennsylvania as well as other documents relating to the manuscript.
This collection documents the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania) as well as the lives of a student, founder and supporter. Researchers interested in Hannah E. Myers Longshore, Joseph S. Longshore, Thomas E. Longshore, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, medical education, or women in medicine will find the collection to be of great value.
This material was collected over the years, with donations by members of the Longshore family, including Thomas E. Longshore, Lucretia L. Blankenburg (daughter of Thomas and Hannah Longshore), and Marian Longshore.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center
- Finding Aid Date
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
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