Philadelphia Medicine Spring 2020 - 24

p h i l a m e d s o c .org

Feature

Advancing the Future of
Medicine by Celebrating Its Past
The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation
Has Roots at PCMS
By: Katie Burkhart, Brand Manager, The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation

M

ore than 20 years ago, the fledgling Women in Medicine
Legacy Foundation found its first home in the offices of
the Philadelphia County Medical Society (PCMS).

The WIMLF & PCMS

Known then as the Foundation for the History of Women in
Medicine, the group was committed to saving documents that
chronicled the challenges and accomplishments of pioneering female
physicians and medical scientists in the United States.

"More than two decades later, the Foundation's ties to PCMS
remain strong," said Victoria Burkhart, executive director of the
Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation.

Where It All Began

Mark Austerberry, executive director of PCMS, recalls that the
late Dr. Lila Stein Kroser, former PCMS president, was a staunch
supporter of the Foundation.

The Foundation was born out of the bankruptcy of the Woman's
Medical College in Philadelphia, the first medical school for women
in the country.

"As a trailblazer herself, Dr. Kroser understood the importance of
preserving the history of women in medicine," he said. "The Medical
Society's relationship with the Foundation has evolved organically,
from its birth at our offices to its growth as a national organization
that is committed to many of the same issues that we are."

"We got our start at the Medical Society, in their offices on Spring
Garden
Street," she said. "We will always remember where we came
Both the Foundation and PCMS have seen significant accomplishfrom.
And
involving the Philadelphia medical community in our
ments over the last two decades and are excited to partner once again.
efforts is a natural synergy."

There was a commitment to preserve the archives and document
collections on women in medicine that were attached to the college.
A small committee created a 501c3 nonprofit to protect and
steward these archives through the bankruptcy process. Ultimately,
they were successful in finding a new home for the records at the
Drexel School of Medicine. With the archives secured, the original
mission of the Foundation was met.
But the Foundation didn't stop there. It expanded its mission to
include not only the preservation but the promotion of the history
of women in medicine. In addition to preserving medical history
through records and oral accounts, the Foundation now examines
such vital issues as the wage gap and looks to share the stories
of pioneers in order to inspire and support future generations of
women in medicine.

24 Philadelphia Medicine : Spring 2020

Many of the Foundation's leaders have come from the Philadelphia
medical community. Alma Dea Morani, MD, the first female plastic
surgeon, taught at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania for
nearly 30 years. The Foundation's highest honor, presented annually
to a pioneer in medicine or science, is named for her.
Julia Haller, MD, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye Hospital,
currently serves as the Foundation's president. Dr. Haller was recently
named Physician of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation is growing from our
roots in Philadelphia with a message we are spreading throughout the
country, through sponsorships, grants, lectures, awards, education,
and our oral history project," Dr. Haller said. "By understanding
what came before us, we can move forward with clarity and purpose
to benefit generations of women in medicine to come."


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Philadelphia Medicine Spring 2020

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