WVU lecture spotlights first female physicians in West Virginia

By The West Virginia Record | Nov 21, 2006

MORGANTOWN -- The lives and times of two pioneering women doctors in West Virginia will be presented in a West Virginia University lecture Nov. 27.

"Changing the Face of Medicine: The Stories of Wheeling Physicians Eliza Hughes and Harriet Jones" will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Health Sciences Center Auditorium. A reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture will delivered by Dr. Barbara Howe, a historian and director of WVU's Center for Women's Studies.

Dr. Eliza Hughes was the first woman in what is now West Virginia to get an M.D. degree and one of the very few in Virginia before the Civil War to have this distinction.

Hughes studied at the Cleveland Homeopathic College and graduated from the Penn Medical University of Philadelphia in 1860. She returned to Wheeling and began to practice medicine with her brother, Alfred. After Alfred was arrested for being a Confederate in 1862, Eliza continued to practice medicine by herself until her death in 1882.

A Terra Alta native, Jones was the first licensed woman physician in West Virginia. She graduated from the Wheeling Female College and from the Women's Medical College of Baltimore. She practiced medicine in Wheeling at the Weston State Hospital, and in, 1892, opened her own women's hospital.

She was active in many women's rights organizations, and in 1924 was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates, where she served two terms.

The Center for Women's Studies is housed in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at WVU.

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