Author speaks on pioneering female physicians

May 28, 2014
Annette Vance Dorey

Thomaston — Thomaston Historical Society will host an author talk on early female doctors by Annette Vance Dorey Tuesday, June 10, at 7 p.m. at the Thomaston Historical Society museum, 80 Knox St. Dorey will speak about her research and the women in her recent book, “‘Miss Dr. Lucy’ and Maine's Pioneering Female Physicians, 1850s–1920.”

Why was it so hard for females to gain admission to medical schools? Which colleges accepted women in pursuit of a medical career? Were those women mainly married or single? Dorey will answer these questions and more. This book, and an upcoming one, tells the stories of the personal and professional lives of women long forgotten.

Women had to be strong and determined to earn their medical degrees and pursue careers as doctors when it was still a man’s profession. Some were married to other doctors. Some were married to medicine and remained single. Many were Maine natives who traveled far and wide for their medical training, but then did not return with their medical degree. Many came from other states and chose to establish medical careers in Maine. The women varied in background, family life, medical training, and medical disciplines.

“It’s time to learn about and remember these women,” said Dorey. “Their struggles and stories have been lost or neglected all these years.”

More than two dozen worked as physicians at early insane hospitals. Four of those “lady doctors” had long careers exclusively in mental institutions. An impressive number of these women were very involved in their professional medical associations, as well as in suffrage organizations. The goal for many was to see equal rights granted to American women, and not only in medicine.

Dorey’s book is an easy-reader edition for young adults and for anyone who prefers larger print and shorter sentences. It has an extensive glossary of definitions and a detailed Timeline of Medical History. Chapters end with Activities-For-You that allow readers to become personally involved with the women’s stories and the research. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Advance copies of books are available through the author’s website,

Dorey is a life-long learner and educator whose career has taken her from the Midwest, to the Southwest, Canada and New England. She is a former professor of teacher education at the University of New Brunswick. In 2012, she published “Maine Mothers Who Murdered 1875 to 1925: Doing Time in State Prison,” which gives a detailed look at women in Maine’s early criminal justice and corrections systems.

The public is invited to this free program. For more information, call 354-4121 or -2295. A short meeting will take place prior to the program as June is the society’s annual meeting. Voting for board members will be held and an opportunity to renew memberships will be available. Refreshments will be served.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.