Sue Young Histories

Anna Manning Comfort 1845 - 1931

January 12, 2008

New York Medical CollegeAnna Manning Comfort 1845 - 1931 was in the first class of graduates from the New York Medical College in 1865 and the youngest woman ever to graduate as a doctor at the age of 20.

Anna specialised in women’s diseases. Anna survived to become the oldest woman doctor in America, thereby gaining both records!

Henry Ward Beecher joined forces with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Clemence Lozier to found the New York Medical College for Women, and he assisted the homeopaths there to ward off their persecutors and defend American Black students in the College.

Henry Ward Beecher accompanied Clemence Lozier’s neice, Anna Manning, on her graduation ceremony at the College, and she was escorted to the podium to receive her diploma by Horace Greeley ( Anne Taylor Kirschmann, A vital force: women in American homeopathy, (Rutgers University Press, 2004). Page 62).

Anna’s husband George Fisk Comfort was dean of the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University and founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

George was professor of modern languages at Allegheny College, Pennsylvania. He moved to Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, NJ, to become lecturer in Christian (late ancient and early medieval) archaeology. Resident in New York, he helped found the American Philological Society, of which he was president in 1869-74.

Anna was a member of the Professional Women’s League of Syracuse, The Syracuse Political equity Club and the New York State Woman Suffrage Association. She became well known for her defence of American Indians and African Americans.

Nonetheless Anna walked a gauntlet of prejudice, having to endure the abuse of male medical students and male doctors at Bellevue and being taunted in the streets and her medical sign was frequently removed from her practice, pharmacists would not fill her prescriptions and orthodox male doctors would not consult with her

  • because as a woman she was attempting to enter a male domain. When she graduated in 1865, there were no more than a dozen women medical graduated in America.

Comfort wrote Woman’s Education, and Woman’s Health with her husband, and The Home Burdens of Uncle Sam.

The Comfort Family Papers consist of correspondence, day-books, publications, clippings, photographs and other material through four generations. The papers include Dean George Fisk Comfort’s grandfather, farmer John Comfort [1776-1850], his father, the Reverend Silas Comfort [1803-1868] and his son, architect Ralph Manning Comfort [1872-1954] who assembled the collection and arranged for its presentation to the Archives. They also include his wife, Anna Manning Comfort, M.D. [1845-1931].

Amelia A Comfort (also a homeopath) and Anna Manning Comfort were neices of Clemence Lozier


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