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The Duke University Medical Center Archives is happy to announce the recent addition to the Eleanor B. Easley Papers is processed and open for research. The addition includes Easley’s degrees, memberships, North Carolina medical license, and awards from her medical career. Materials date from 1928 to 2000.
The Easley Papers contains the professional papers of Eleanor Beamer Easley (1907-1998), a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology who practiced in Durham, North Carolina. Easley was the first female graduate of Duke's School of Medicine's first four-year class. In 1941, Easley helped co-found the Durham Women's Clinic. Types of materials include notes from talks and presentations, short writings, meeting minutes, agendas, articles, reports, photographs, correspondence, memberships, degrees, awards, and clippings. Major subjects include Durham, North Carolina; nursing; obstetrics and gynecology; women physicians; women's health; and Watts Hospital.
This collection should be of note to researchers interested in studying the experience of female doctors in the early to mid-20th century, during a time when the field was still very male dominated. In fact, many of Easley’s membership certificates use a male pronoun because of the lack of female representation in the field of medicine during the early decades of her practice. For example, see the image included of Easley’s membership certificate to the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society. The text on that certificate reads:
The North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society certifies that Eleanor B. Easley Because of his proven ability in this specialty, and because of his good character and high integrity, has been duly elected a member of this society.
There are numerous examples in this collection of the male pronoun used on certificates given to Easley while she was a practicing doctor.
This blog post was contributed by Assistant Director and Technical Services Head Lucy Waldrop.