March is Women’s History Month

5 03 2010

Dr. CM Davidson, Lady Assistant Physician

In a time when the American Medical Association barred women from membership, Dr. Clara M. Davidson was practicing medicine at the Oregon State Hospital.  An 1895 Cronise image of Oregon State Hospital employees found in the hospital collections (seen to the left) lists Davidson as a “Lady Assistant Physician.”

Although the AMA did begin admitting women members in 1915, today only a quarter (1 in four) of practicing physicians in the United States are women and on average they make 18% less than their male counterparts. 

Clara Montague was born October, 1863 in Vancouver, Washington to Civil War Veteran Charles B. and Martha Malinda Peebler Montague (not to be confused with her stepmother, Catherine who is listed as parent attending her deathbed in obituary).  Clara married James Davidson and had two children Charles and Genevieve. 

Records from the University of Oregon Medical Department indicate that Davidson was enrolled (with two other women) in the school in 1890.  Mrs. Clara M. Davidson, Physician, appears in the 1896 Salem City & Marion County Directory, lodging at 163 Court Street with James Davidson, a bookeeper.  (The house was located on what is now Riverfront Park in Salem).  It is interesting to note that the address is listed as the residence of James Davidson (her husband) and not Clara.  Neither Davidson appears in the 1889-1890 directory.

Dr. Davidson went on to become the first woman physician in Yamhill County, setting up practice in Newberg in about 1898.  She was a member of the Friends Church.  She died at the age of 42 of blood poisioning and is buried in the Lebanon Pioneer Cemetery in Lebanon, Oregon.  

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16 08 2010
oshmuseum

For much more information about Davidson, check out this post on the OSHU Archives blog: http://ohsu-hca.blogspot.com/2010/08/clara-montague-davidson-md.html

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