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Florence Kimball
Helen Goldhaft Wernicoff
Interlude, 1910-1936

Marie Koenig Olson
Patricia O'Connor Halloran
Interlude, 1938-1939

Helen Borchmann Doremus
Sylvia Burg Salk
Interlude, 1940s

Catherine Fabricant
Helena Haight


By singling out these women, I have necessarily omitted other stories and tributes that are also compelling and important. Moreover, in presenting the best of the story, I have also left out some of the worst aspects of these women's gender-related college and professional experiences.

Some reference to the unpleasant aspects of their stories is necessary to understand - at least on a rudimentary level - the challenges and sometimes extraordinary barriers that were placed in front of these women by the faculty, administration, and, occasionally, by classmates. For a dean who comes along a generation or two later to exploit stories taken out of temporal or societal context would hardly be appropriate. I am, therefore, reluctant to sit in absolute judgment, knowing that our modern-day sins of omission or commission may also one day be considered egregious.

Nonetheless, some stories do haunt us, even 50 to 90 years later: for example, the assignment of foul-smelling, gangrenous cadavers to woman students for dissection; the exclusion of ambulatory or farriery privileges to women students; the complete lack of locker rooms for women, who had to change in the women's bathroom; and the occasional practice of misinforming female students of the actual times of examinations or assignments.

But these women were tenacious. They had fortitude, determination, and, above all, a sense of humor, decency, and honor. They came from loving families with strong female role models who gave them the emotional and personal support that is always important to the young professional. And each of the women who came through the College's doors became role models for others. They became part of the Cornell legacy of strong women making firm strides in the field, clearing a path for those who would come after them.

Throughout science and medicine, the historical record provides as much instruction as contemporary discoveries. As a profession, we would be stronger if we were better acquainted with that record, and if we patterned more of our conduct upon an understanding of those who came before us.

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Florence KimballHelen Goldhaft Wernicoff
Helen DoremusMarie Koenig Olson
Sylvia Burg SalkPatricia O'Connor Halloran
Catherine FabricantHelena Haight

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