First EditionHarriot Hunt (1805-1875) was the first American woman to practice medicine professionally. Glances and Glimpses; or Fifty Years Social, Including Twenty Years Professional Life. Boston: John P. Jewett and Company, 1856. First edition, "Fourth Thousand" printing. Inscribed "From the Author" on inside front endpaper. Brown cloth boards. Very scarce, held in just four institutions worldwide according to OCLC Worldcat as of July 2022 (NY Public Library, Louisiana State, Smith College, Tufts).
Hunt’s experience in caring for her sick sister led her to seek a medical career. At the time, however, there were no colleges or medical schools for women. In 1833 Hunt and her sister both entered the home of Richard and Elizabeth Mott to study medicine privately. Hunt and her sister opened their own medical practice, which focused on women health. The Hunts treated many women suffering from neurasthenia, a psychological disorder characterized by chronic fatigue and weakness. But Harriot wanted to know more about medecine than any doctor. So, Harriot Hunt became the first woman to apply for admission to Harvard Medical School in 1847, Her initial application was turned down. At a meeting of the President and Fellows of Harvard College, they voted it was “inexpedient” to accept her to attend medical lectures. But 3 years later, after learning that another woman Elizabeth Blackwell, had been accepted to practice medicine in Geneva Medical College in New York that same year, Harriot decided to campaign the dean, Oliver Wendell Holmes, to be reconsidered. In her 1850 letter to the “Gentlemen of the Medical Faculty of Harvard College,” Harriot concluded her application pointedly: “Shall woman be permitted all the Medical advantages she desires? Shall mind, or sex, be recognized in admission to medical lectures? An answer will be awaited with deep interest.” This time, amid growing debate over the role of women in medicine, Harriot was accepted to attend medical lecture. But when the male student body caught wind of what was happening, they were outraged at the prospect of having to study alongside a woman. They jumped into action to stop Harriot’s campaign short with two petitions to the faculty. In face of the protests, the school’s faculty met privately with Harriot to convince her not to attend the lectures. She eventually acquiesced. ''The class at Harvard in 1851, have purchased for themselves a notoriety they will not covet in years to come,” Harriot later reflected The event created so much backlash that the Harvard Medical School later created a formal policy against women attending lectures; the school wouldn’t open its doors to women until 1945. Though Harriot never received the formal training she so wanted, in 1853, she was delighted when the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania honored her with an honorary degree. “Courtesy and respect had led many of my patients for many years to address me as Dr., but the recognition of that College was very pleasant after eighteen years practice,” she wrote of the occasion. Moreover, her ousting from Harvard would prove significant in the longer arc of women's history... (Jackie Mansky SMITHSONIANMAG.COM, NOVEMBER 7, 2017)
She wrote "Bringing up daughters for nothing but marriage, mingles poison in the cup of domestic life, is traitorous to the virtue of both sexes, for neither suffers alone ". In 1853, the Female Medical College in Philadelphia conferred an honorary medical degree on her. Sadly the issue of admitting women to Harvard Medical School continued to provoke controversy until almost a century later: on June 5, 1944, when the Harvard Corporation voted to admit women to the Medical School in the fall of 1945.
In 1850, Harriot attended the first National Woman's Rights Convention alongside luminaries like Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown-Blackwell. She soon became a leading voice in the women’s movement in her own right. she opened her own medical practice to serve women in the community despite being blocked from her degree.oth the necessity for female doctors and her commitment to abolition and women’s rights motivated Hunt’s nationwide lecture tours, and by the mid-1850s she was known outside of Massachusetts as one of the ardent supporters of the feminist movement. The New England Women’s Club with Julia Ward Howe as president was held at Hunt’s home. Hunt worked towards winning the vote for women as well. Each year when she paid her taxes, she issued a taxation without representation protest. She died in 1875. On her grave, the acclaimed black sculptor Edmonia Lewis erected a statue of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, to stand over the long-time medical practitioner. Her biography, Glances and Glimpses" documents Hunt’s professional memoirs and dedicated to dear friend and noted abolition activist Sarah Grimke. Very good condition. Some foxing and soiling to first and last few pages, but overall bright interior with tight binding. Rare, inscribed first edition documenting the life of a pioneer for women’s advancement in the medical field.