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Dr. Anna E. Broomall scrapbooks


Held at: Delaware County Historical Society [Contact Us]408 Avenue of the States, Chester, Pennsylvania, 19013

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Delaware County Historical Society. 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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Anna Elizabeth Broomall (1847-1931), from Upper Chichester Township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania was a prominent physician who established one of the first clinics for out-practice maternity care in the United States. She was chief resident physician at the Woman's Hospital of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1875 to 1883 and instructor of obstetrics from 1875 to 1879. She became chair of obstetrics in 1879, and served as a professor in the department from 1880 to 1903.

The daughter of Congressman John M. Broomall (1816-1894) and Elizabeth Booth (1823-1848), sister of William B. Broomall (1843-1927; judge for the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas), and aunt of John Martin Broomall (judge for the Delaware County Court), Broomall was born into a Quaker family who supported equality and higher education for women. After attending private schools in Pennsylvania, Broomall entered the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating with a doctor of medicine degree in 1871. As a student, Broomall was part of the first group of women allowed to attend clinical lectures alongside male students and physicians at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

After returning from a three-year trip to Europe in 1875 where she studied obstetrics under several prominent physicians in Vienna and Paris, Broomall "returned to Philadelphia and accepted a position as chief resident physician at the Woman's Hospital in Philadelphia, determined to raise standards of instruction and care to the levels she observed in Europe. Dr. Broomall spent the next eight years as chief resident there, working hard to improve the training of nurses and care of patients. At the same time she taught at the Woman's Medical College. In 1879 she took over as chair of obstetrics after the death of Emeline Horton Cleveland, M.D. To improve the obstetrical training of her students and provide much-needed patient care she established one of the first clinics for out-practice maternity care in the county. Her clinic [Woman's Medical College Maternity] was located in South Philadelphia -- a community whose poor residents were particularly at risk of fatal complications during pregnancy and delivery.

"Dr. Broomall paid particular attention to the use of antiseptics and state-of-the-art procedures, such as Caesarean section and other methods to ease the delivery of the fetus. By the end of her tenure, the college could point to its low mortality rate (less than twenty per two thousand) compared to that of other institutions, as evidence that women physicians could practice medicine successfully, applying the very highest standards.

"Dr. Broomall was professor of obstetrics for the next twenty years, also acting as a gynecologist for the Quaker-run Friend's Asylum for the Insane in Philadelphia. She published several case studies based on her work and undertook an extensive inspection and public lecture tour which took her as far as India and Asia to visit former students on missionary duty there."

Broomall also had an active interest in history, and in 1903 when she retired from medicine, she served as librarian and curator of the Delaware County Historical Society (est. 1895).


Quoted text from: National Library of Medicine. Changing the Face of Medicine (exhibition). "Dr. Anna Elizabeth Broomall." Accessed July 12, 2013.

"Dr. Anna Broomall is Dead in Chester." Public Ledger. April 5, 1931. Clipping found in collection.

The collection is organized into two series: I. Delaware County scrapbooks (substantially Chester) and II. Philadelphia scrapbooks (substantially Germantown and Center City). The volumes primarily consist of clippings with a few photographs and typed or handwritten notes that focus on historically-significant people, organizations, buildings, and events. They are largely organized by location, including neighborhoods and streets. Besides Delaware County and Philadelphia, Chester County (Pa.), New Jersey, and some other locations are represented. Most volumes are indexed.

The collection also includes some glass-plate and film negatives as well as a box of items, such as letters and ephemera, of historical and personal interest to Dr. Broomall.

An inventory of the collection is available on-site.

Gift of Anna E. Broomall.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Delaware County Historical Society directly for more information.

Delaware County Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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