In this engagingly written book Thomas Bonner unveils the dramatic story of women’s long struggle to become physicians. Focusing both on international comparisons and on the personal histories of many of the pioneers, their determination and dedication, their setbacks and successes, he shows how European and American women gradually broke through the wall of resistance to women in medicine. In pre–Civil War America, in Tsarist Russia, in Victorian England, special schools of medicine for women were widely established as early as 1850 as a kind of way-station on the road to medical coeducation. Only in Switzerland and France, at first, could women study medicine in classes with men. As a result, hundreds and then thousands of women from Russia, Eastern Europe, England, and the United States enrolled in Swiss or Parisian universities to gain the first-class education that was denied them at home. Coming almost literally from “the ends of the earth,” they formed the largest migration of professional women in history.
An essential reference for anyone studying the historical, social, economic, and psychological currents that affected many countries’ ability to make full use of the talent of half the potential candidates for a medical education. It is also a tribute to the women in many countries who persisted, against extraordinary odds, in pursuing a profession that they found irresistibly challenging and gratifying.
A fresh examination of the different strands of [women’s] long and intense struggle for medical training.
A clearly written and comprehensive historical account of the evolving national, legal, and educational structures bearing on women’s medical education and licensing.
To the Ends of the Earth is an absorbing chronicle of women’s struggle to gain entrance to the medical schools of the industrializing nations of Europe, Imperial Russia, and North America from the mid-nineteenth century up to the end of the first World War. Bonner has made excellent use of varied sources to reveal the internal social, political, and economic currents which helped or hindered women’s quest for quality medical education… Engagingly written… [T]he breadth of the book is an important addition to scholarship on women in medicine. It enhances our understanding of the role of the state in women’s personal struggle for medical education.
This book is important, deeply erudite, thoroughly researched, clearly written and innovative; indeed, it is a much needed piece of work on the history of women in medicine… Bonner’s comparative perspective is not only fascinating, but it is also essential to understanding the history of women in medicine in the U.S., as well as elsewhere, and offers a very useful and significant corrective to existing interpretations regarding the U.S. medical women’s movement… Bonner does an excellent job synthesizing the research on women physicians that has been accomplished so far. For that reason, the book does more than just inform the reader about women who attended medical schools in Europe. It is also a readable and informative history on the entrance of women into the medical profession, in America and in Europe. Again, the comparative factor gives Bonner’s book an advantage over all the other histories that have come out in the last decade.
It makes a genuinely new contribution to the history of medical education for women by placing it in a worldwide context—something rarely done by professional historians… A strong point of the book is its narrative style. It tells a good story… A stimulating work that adds important material to our knowledge of women’s medical education.
- 264 pages
- 6-1/16 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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