Pioneering women in medicine exhibit comes to Washington University School of Medicine

Women doctors are the focus of a new traveling exhibition opening Aug. 10 at the Bernard Becker Medical Library at Washington University School of Medicine.

S. Josephine Baker, MD, DrPH, was a prominent public health physician during the first half of the 20th century. Courtesy: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-058326, ca. 1920

“Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America’s Women Physicians” tells the story of how American women who wanted to practice medicine have struggled over the past two centuries to gain access to medical education and to work in the medical specialty they chose. The exhibit, on display through Sept. 18, features several prominent female physicians from the School of Medicine, including Virginia Weldon, M.D. and the late Gerty Cori, M.D., who won the Nobel Prize with her husband, Carl Cori, M.D., for discovering the enzymes that convert glycogen to sugar and back into glycogen.

Two interactive kiosks traveling with the exhibition offer access to the National Library of Medicine’s “Local Legends” Web site (, which features outstanding women physicians from every state, including Jessie Ternberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor emerita of surgery and of surgery in pediatrics at the School of Medicine, and to a Web site created for the larger exhibition at the National Library of Medicine, which includes biographies on three School of Medicine alumna: Denise L. Faustman, M.D., Ph.D.; the late Helen Hofsommer Glaser, M.D.; and Carolyn Bauer Robinowitz, M.D. A section of the Web site called “Share Your Story,” allows the public to add the names and biographies of women physicians they know.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibit,” said Paul Schoening, director and associate dean of the Bernard Becker Medical Library. “Although ‘Changing the Face of Medicine’ focuses on women in medicine, its lessons about persistence, dedication and courage in one’s life choices speak to everyone — men, women, young, old — and to people in all lines of work.”

The National Library of Medicine and the American Library Association organized the exhibition with financial support from the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health and the American Medical Women’s Association. The traveling exhibit is based on a larger exhibition that was displayed at the National Library of Medicine from 2003-2005.

The Bernard Becker Medical Library is sponsoring free programs and other events for the public in connection with the exhibition. An opening reception and lecture will be held Thursday, Aug. 13, featuring Ellen S. More, Ph.D., head of the office of Medical History and Archives and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. A panel discussion will be held Thursday, Sept. 3 featuring female physicians from the School of Medicine. For more information, contact the Bernard Becker Medical Library at (314) 362-7080.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.