HerStory

Harriet Jemima Winifred CLISBY

Also known as: née Clisby, Dr Harriet Clisby, Harriet Jemima Walker, “Henrietta Condon. M.D.”

Born: 31 August 1830

Died: 30 April 1931

Special Achievements:

Harriet Clisby and Caroline Dexter published just two editions of the Interpreter in 1861 (January and February); said to be the first magazine published by women in Australia. It’s content contained art, literature, and science and included a medical page “with practical information … as to the prevention of disease and hints for its cure”.

1930 - The oldest woman doctor in the world.

Additional Information:

Physician and Feminist.

1856 - Edited Southern Phonographic Harmonia, a magazine in shorthand “edited by a Lady” and printed in Melbourne.

ca 1856-1857 - Conducted a community home for the rescue of women prisoners (Melbourne, Victoria).

Moved to England to pursue a medical profession. Because her monthly remittance of funds ceased after one month and the “barrier against women in English universities”, she became a private nurse, Guy’s Hospital, London. After accumulating funding and receiving “a gift from a Spiritualist friend she went to New York and entered the Medical College and Hospital for Women”.

1865 - Received a medical diploma.

1871 - Moved to Boston, Massachusetts, USA to practice medicine and founded the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, based on the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association). The Union was incorporated in 1880 with her as its first president, but she resigned shortly afterwards because of her health. From 1882-1889, she served as vice-president.

“Miss Shirlet Darbyshire, …, has acknowledged that the portrait of the woman doctor who is the heroine of her latest novel, “Henrietta Condon. M.D.,” is largely drawn from life. Nor does it require a great deal of imagination to realise that the name Henrietta Condon only very thinly veils the identity of one of the earliest woman doctors, Harriet Clisby, who died only a few years ago at the great age of 100.”
The Age, 8 December 1936; Trove entry for “Henritta Codon, M.D.”


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