George A. Hay collection of administrative files of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania
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
From 1925 to 1970, the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania overcame significant obstacles, adapting to both survive and prosper in a dramatically evolving society. In 1930, the school and hospital moved to a new and larger facility in East Falls, then a burgeoning middleclass neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia. The excitement and optimism resulting from the move was quickly tempered, however, by the Great Depression, which left the institution in financial turmoil. Added to that, in 1935, an inspection of the school, hospital and its governance conducted by the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association cost WMC its membership in the Association of American Medical Colleges temporarily. The College also explored the financial and administrative benefits of merging with at least two women’s hospitals in the Philadelphia area; Kensington Women’s Hospital and the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
George A. Hay served as comptroller for WMC during the mid-twentieth century, participating in major administrative decisions, particularly in the early1940s and 1960s. Hay was involved in a massive administrative reorganization in 1942, exploring the benefit of mergers with Kensington Women’s Hospital and the Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and he served on the Committee on Admissions Policies, which decided in 1970 that WMC should admit male students and change its name to Medical College of Pennsylvania.
Sarah Logan Wister Starr was a local socialite and philanthropist, born into Philadelphia’s famous Wister family, who served as president of WMC’s Board of Corporators until 1941. Together with Dean Martha Tracy and Vida Hunt Francis, an administrator, Starr led the institution through both periods of growth and financial difficulty. A dedicated benefactor, Starr spearheaded fundraising campaigns to finance WMC’s 1930 relocation to East Falls, a newly developed neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia, and to suppress the financial effects of the Great Depression.
Doctor Ellen Culver Potter graduated from WMC in 1905 and went on to a distinguished career. Potter devoted time to missions in New York City’s Chinatown and Norwich, Connecticut, opened a private practice in Germantown in Philadelphia and, in 1920, became the head of Pennsylvania’s Child Health Division. In 1923, she was appointed Secretary of Welfare in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Potter eventually returned to WMC to join the faculty and served as acting president in the 1940s.
Peitzman, Steven J, MD. A New and Untried Course: Woman’s Medical College and Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850-1998. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
Pioneer-Pacesetter-Innovator: The Story of the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Princeton: The Newcomen Society in North America, 1971.
The George A. Hay collection of administrative files is an assemblage of records created by various administrators of the Woman’s College of Medicine from 1925 to 1965. Creators of the records include: George A. Hay, comptroller; Sarah Logan Wister Starr, president of the Board of Corporators; Vida Hunt Francis, secretary; Dr. Ellen Culver Potter, a member of the faculty as well as acting president in the 1940s; and others. In addition, there is a small sampling of very early administrative records, that are dated 1796, and from 1861 to 1928. Those files include a deed to land in East Falls in Philadelphia, report cards, correspondence and other materials.
Generally speaking, the records housed in this collection evidence the day to day administration of the college, especially relating to its finances; financial planning; fundraising; future needs of the college; and a few significant landmarks in institutional history, the 1942 administrative reorganization, the 1950 Centennial Celebration, and explored institutional mergers with Jefferson Medical College, Kensington Women’s Hospital and Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Across the collection, researchers will find correspondence, planning materials, official reports, financial records and other materials. While there is a lot of useful information to be found in this collection, none of the topics represented are completely documented. Researchers are advised to completely read the scope and content note and to peruse the box and folder lists for more details, paying close attention to dates and date ranges.
The collection is divided into the following series, reflecting either the individual or administrative body that created the records: "George A. Hay Files," "Vida Hunt Francis Files," "Ellen C. Potter Files," "Sarah Logan Wister Files," "Office of the President," "Auxiliary of the Woman's Medical College," "Centennial Committee of the Woman's Medical College," "Massachusetts Committee of the Woman's Medical College," and "Historic Records." The "George Hay Files" series makes up approximately one third of the collection. It is divided into three subseries: Financial Records, Financial Reports and Proposed Mergers, which together offer information on institutional finances, administrative meetings, scholarships, the 1942 administrative reorganization and explored mergers with Kensington Women's Hospital and the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia in the 1940s and 1960s.
The next three series, "Vida Hunt Francis Files," "Ellen Culver Potter Files" and "Sarah Logan Wister Starr Files," are interrelated and together date from 1920 to 1955. For most of those years, these three women worked together, managing the general affairs of the Woman's Medical College and, though there is not a large sampling of any of their records, the files contained in the series reflect those relationships, informing aspects of institutional history. In Francis' records there is official and personal correspondence with Ellen Culver Potter, with and about Dean Martha Tracy, Catherine MacFarlane and others, financial materials, committee records, especially a Building Committee file from 1930, and information about events. Also filed in Francis' records is a transcript of a radio interveiw with Martha Tracy and a memoir written about Martha Tracy by Catherine MacFarlane. In Potter's records, researchers will find information pertaining to college finances, presidents' reports and files on future planning. In addition, there is information about a proposed merger with Jefferson Medical College and the 1941 resolution regarding the WMC's loss of status with the Council of Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association. In Starr's records, researchers will find financial records, an annotated history of the WMC, information on the Harton Scholarship and correspondence about college finances.
The "Office of the President" series dates from 1931 to 1956. Its primary contributors were WMC President Burgess Gordon and Gladys Dascam, who served WMC in various capacities throughout her tenure. Researchers will find correspondence, financial records regarding institutional development and fundraising, information on public relations and press releases.
The next three series pertain to the "Auxiliary of the WMC," from 1942 to 1959; the "Centennial Committee," from 1948 to 1951; and the "Massachusetts Committee," from 1957 to 1961. Each series typically houses correspondence related to the work of each administrative body as well as financial materials and information on scheduled events.
The final series in the collection, "Historic Records," houses a wide breadth of materials dating from 1796 to 1928 (bulk: 1861 to 1928), which generally predate the tenures of all the administrators otherwise represented in the collection. It includes student report cards, correspondence and other administrative records, and a 1796 deed to land in East Falls on which the Woman's Medical College eventually stood. Of note are files pertaining to the relationship and proposed merger with the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia from around the turn of the twentieth century. A particularly interesting file entitled, "Louise Wright "Incident"," details a student's efforts and publicized fight against her suspension from WMC in 1891.
Gift of George A. Hay.
The processing of 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.
This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.
- Daskam, Gladys
- Francis, Vida Hunt
- Gordon, Burgess L. (Burgess Lee), b. 1892
- Hay, George A.
- Potter, Ellen Culver, 1871-1958
- Starr, Sarah Logan Wister
- Tracy, Martha, 1876-1942
- Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Courtney Smerz
- Finding Aid Date
- October 28, 2009
- The processing of 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.
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Drexel University College of Medicine, Legacy Center: Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.
George A. Hay collection of administrative files of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania/ Series: Historical Records / Files: Act of Incorporation of the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, 1880; Correspondence regarding the relations between the Woman's College of Medicine and the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, the gynecology department of Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia and finances, 1901-1902, 1933; Proposed merger with Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, 1901-1902
George Hay collection of administrative files of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania; Massachusetts Committee Files
George A. Hay collection of administrative files of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania/ Series: Massachusetts Committee of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania
George A. Hay collection of administrative files of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania/ Series: Office of the Presidents/File: Massachusetts Committee Events
George A. Hay collection of administrative files of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania/ Series: George A. Hay Files/ Subseries: Proposed Mergers
See George Hay merger files
See George Hays merger files