Preston, Ann

Preston, Ann

(1813–72) physician; born in Westgrove, Pa. She was raised in a Quaker family who were antislavery and pro-women's rights and she briefly attended Quaker schools, but she had to help raise her siblings and to educate herself by reading and attending public lectures. After some teaching of physiology and hygiene to local women and girls in the early 1840s, she became a medical apprentice in 1847 and eventually became a member of the first class to graduate from the Female (later Women's) Medical College of Pennsylvania (1851), becoming a professor there in 1853. When the Philadelphia doctors refused to let the new female doctors gain access to the hospitals, she helped found Women's Hospital of Philadelphia in 1861. In 1866 she became dean of the Women's Medical College and she gradually won acceptance for female physicians in Philadelphia, although she had to fight opposition constantly. As both teacher and administrator, she remained with the hospital and medical college until her death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.