Irish women in medicine, c.1880s–1920s

Origins, education and careers

Laura Kelly
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This book is the first comprehensive history of Irish women in medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It focuses on the debates surrounding women's admission to Irish medical schools, the geographical and social backgrounds of early women medical students, their educational experiences and subsequent careers. It is the first collective biography of the 760 women who studied medicine at Irish institutions in the period and, in contrast to previous histories, puts forward the idea that women medical students and doctors were treated fairly and often favourably by the Irish medical hierarchy. It highlights the distinctiveness of Irish medical education in contrast with that in Britain and is also unique in terms of the combination of rich sources it draws upon, such as official university records from Irish universities, medical journals, Irish newspapers, Irish student magazines, the memoirs of Irish women doctors, and oral history accounts.

This book reconsiders the history of women in medicine, higher education and the professions in Ireland. It will appeal not only to medical historians, social historians and women’s historians in Ireland, the UK and abroad but also to members of the general public.

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‘Kelly has achieved a lot in her first book and offers promising scope for future research about medical women in Ireland after 1922. Additionally, she shows that statistical work needs to be done to unearth the backgrounds and professional lives of men medical graduates in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—a glittering research area yet to be mined.'
Vanessa Witton, Sydney
Health and history, 19/1

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