Irish women in medicine, c.1880s1920s
Origins, education and careers
By (author) Laura Kelly
Publication date:01 May 2015
Length of book:272 pages
PublisherManchester University Press
Available in paperback for the first time, 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 volume injects some overdue energy into this important topic. It is meticulously researched, well written and offers scholars a number of research avenues worth pursuing, but also a rich 'Bibliographical Index' which alone could generate new projects and findings. Even without this valuable 37-page section, this book would be the most comprehensive study of women medical professionals in Ireland. It should easily find a place on medical history reading lists, but would be a worthy addition to broader courses on women's history and the history of education. Interesting take on women's history in Ireland. '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 2017