Friday, April 10, 2020

Two Wild Women Doctors who Changed California

By Jacqui Nelson

The times they are a-changing, but the special place in our hearts, hopes, and memories for healthcare professionals is timeless. Calfornia was often called a land of gold and opportunity. Meet Mariana and Charlotte, two wild women doctors and reformers who helped the Golden State find something greater than gold for its people. 

Dr. Mariana Bertola
( born 1865 in Pacheco, California ) 

Mariana’s parents were Italian immigrants. In 1852, her father came to California as a miner but soon became a grocer and a vineyard operator. Mariana went to school in San Jose. She was a teacher first and then a school principal for seven years in Martinez, California. In 1899, she graduated from Cooper Medical College at Stanford University. 

As a doctor, Mariana supported the "California Plan" for every county hospital to offer a maternity ward and a children's ward. In 1903, she completed her obstetrics internship and became the college physician at Oakland’s Mills College. 

Mariana arranged for translators for Italian-speaking patients at San Francisco-area hospitals and gave lectures on health topics in the Italian community and to women's groups throughout the city. She was the president of San Francisco’s Travelers’ Aid Society and the Woman's Vigilant Committee (WVC). The WVC formed in 1921 to protect girls from criminal activity. 

In 1926 and 1927, Mariana was president of the California Federation of Women's Clubs and remained active with women's clubs well into her eighties.

Dr. Charlotte Johnson Baker 
( born 1855 in Newburyport, Massachusetts ) 

After graduating from Newburyport High School and teaching for a year, Charlotte attended Vassar College. In 1877, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. From 1879 to 1881, she attended the medical department of the University of Michigan and received her M.D.

In 1882, she married fellow doctor Frederick Baker and the couple practiced medicine in Ohio, New Mexico (where their two children were born), and then San Diego, California. In 1888, she received an A.M (or Master of Arts) from Vassar College for special work in optics and ophthalmology completed after graduation.

In 1898, Charlotte was the first woman president of the San Diego County Medical Society. In other years, she was vice president of the Southern California Medical Society, co-founder of the San Diego YWCA (and its president for three years), and president of the Equal Suffrage Association.

Charlotte spearheaded the San Diego Women's Vote Amendment campaign, worked to eliminate prostitution, and advocated a shorter workweek for laborers.

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I love the notion that a doctor can not only mend our bodies but our societies. Because if either is broken, how can our futures be healthy? Thank goodness for all of the doctors (past, present, and future) who do so much for us ❤️ 

Read more of my Cowboy Kisses Wild Women blog posts 

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Julie Lence said...

Two very interesting women, and California's history. When writing California, a lot of us think of the gold rush. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to incorporate something else. Hugs, Jacqui!

GiniRifkin said...

Thank you for introducing me to two such great ladies. How inspiring. And what extensive educations. Not always an easy achievement for women in that day and age.

Jacqui Nelson said...

Thanks for your comments, Julie & Gini! Wonderful to hear you found my blog post interesting & inspiring! ❤️❤️