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A Woman of the Century:   A Crowdsourcing Project of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

September 3 - September 9

Women of the Week

Educator and author Catharine Esther Beecher and physician and surgeon Cora Belle Brewster are this week's Women of the Week.

  •  To learn about them by viewing their items, please click on their images.  

  • To read their biographical sketches in A Woman of the Century, please click on the highlighted page number(s) to the left of their images.

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BEECHER, Catharine Esther

September 6, 1800

author and educator

East Hampton, NY

p. 70-71

Catharine Esther Beecher, a member of the famous Beecher family, was an educator and author.   She was born in East Hampton, New York on September 6, 1800, and spent much of her childhood in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Beecher began the Hartford Female Seminary and later started the Western Female Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

In addition to Suggestions Respecting Improvements in Education, A Treatise on Domestic Economy, and several other books, she wrote for Appleton's JournalChristian Spectator, and the Connecticut Observer.  In a September 4, 1869 piece in Appleton's Journal"Something for Women better than the Ballot," Beecher discusses the American Woman's Educational Association's proposed endowments for a women's institution.

She passed away on May 12, 1878.

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BREWSTER, Miss Cora Belle

September 6, 1859

physician and surgeon

Almond, NY

p. 118-119

Dr. Cora Belle Brewster was born in Almond, New York on September 6, 1859.  She attended Alfred University and became a teacher in Smethport, Pennsylvania.  Next, Cora Belle attended Northwestern University, where she decided to change career paths and went into business as a purchasing agent.  A few years later, when she moved to Baltimore, Cora Belle began the study of medicine that led her to become a doctor.  After starting at the Medical College for Women in Baltimore, she decided to move to Boston to study at The College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her training also included a stint at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

As Dr. Cora Belle began her medical career in the mid-1880s, she established a joint practice in Baltimore with
her sister Dr. Flora A. Brewster, another woman in A Woman of the Century.  At the end of that decade, they published the Baltimore Family Health Journal, which later became The Homeopathic Advocate and Health Journal.  In 1890, she became a gynecological surgeon at the new Maryland Homeopathic Hospital and Free Dispensary.

When Cora Belle spoke about "Heredity" at the 1895 Congress of Professional Women in Atlanta, The Alexandria Gazette published many quotes from her address.

By 1899, her sanitarium was at 1027 Madison Avenue in Baltimore.  The next June, she was in Washington, D.C. presenting a paper about "Reflex Ovarian Pain" at the annual conference of The American Institute of Homeopathy.  Cora Belle was prominent in her field, and the 1907 New York Tribune article called her "one of the foremost women physicians in the country."