[2019 Lane Exhibit] Adelaide Brown: A Stanford Medicine Pioneer
It is about Adelaide Brown, a woman who received her MD degree from Cooper Medical College (the predecessor to today’s Stanford Medicine) in 1892.
Brown took on many initiatives and leadership positions related to public health for women in California, including work on ensuring milk safety.
Her work also included establishing a family planning clinic in San Francisco in the early twentieth century. This entailed personal and professional risk, insofar as health care providers were legally barred at that time from providing information or services related to birth control or abortion.
There is no documentation that Brown was a proponent of eugenics, but many of the white women championing birth control in the early twentieth century were advocates of eugenics to protect what they regarded as a superior – yet endangered – white race.
Vocal advocates for eugenics were also found at Stanford University, including Stanford President David Starr Jordan.
Brown’s legacies included co-founding the Stanford Medical Alumni Association, statewide public health advocacy for women, and publishing on the history of early women physicians in California.