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Blanche Fiscus Greaves papers
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Drexel University. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
- Drexel University: College of Medicine Legacy Center
- Blanche Fiscus Greaves papers
- Date [inclusive]:
- Call Number:
- 1 Linear feet (1 document box, 2 half-document boxes, 1 flat box)
- Blanche Fiscus Greaves (b.1869, d.1958) graduated in the class of 1895 at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. After attending medical school, she was employed at the Emergency Hospital, and was apparently the first female to serve on the staff of the Dorthea Dix Hospital and Woman's Hospital, all in Washington DC. She joined the staff of the Hospital of the Woman's Medical College in 1899 and apparently worked there until her retirement, practicing medicine for 40 years in Philadelphia. For a brief period, Greaves was appointed a temporary physician in the treatment of influenza and pneumonia during the epidemic in 1918. The collection materials span the years 1886-1955. The bulk of this collection is photographs, and primarily studio portraits. Some individuals in these photographs are identified but many are not. Some items of interest in this collection: a "Gem Album" of tintype portraits of young men and women (dated 1887), a portrait of Greaves posed next to a fragmented skull (dated 1891), a small photography notebook, containing camera settings and weather conditions (dated 1899).
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Blanche Fiscus Greaves was born in 1869, a native to Apollo, Pennsylvania. She attended public schools in both Leechburg and Apollo, PA before studying teaching and receiving her bachelor’s degree from the Indiana State Normal School (Indiana, PA) in 1888. Greaves then moved on to study medicine at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1895. Soon after, she married Dr. Harrison Adams Greaves – a fellow doctor and Roentgenologist (or radiologist) in Philadelphia.
After receiving her medical degree, Greaves was an assistant clinician at the Emergency Hospital in Washington DC. While there, she also served on the staff of the Dorthea Dix Hospital and Woman's Hospital, and was reportedly the first woman to do so. In 1899 Greaves joined the staff of the Hospital of the Woman’s Medical College, and remained working there until her retirement. For a brief period, Greaves was appointed a temporary physician in the treatment of influenza and pneumonia during the epidemic in 1918. She practiced medicine in Philadelphia for 40 years, and lived in West Philadelphia with her husband for 55 years. Blanche Fiscus Greaves died on January 13, 1958.
During her lifetime, Greaves was a member to many societies and groups. She was a lifelong member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Daughters of Isis, as well as a charter member of the Order of Amaranth and the White Shrine of Jerusalem. Greaves was a member of the Alumnae Association of the Woman's Medical College, and a founding member of the National Women’s Party.
All the biographical details above are drawn from Blanche Fiscus Greaves' obituary in the Philadelphia Bulletin, 15 January 1958.
Scope and Contents
The bulk of this collection is photographs, numbering 100 to 200 in total. The focus is primarily studio portraits, but there is a variety of subject matter, setting and type of photograph. The richness of the collection is in the high quantity of studio portraits and a highlight of the collection are the candid photographs of the family. The photographs are both identified and unidentified, it seems by writers both contemporaneous and after the photographs were taken.
The folder entitled "Textual Documents" contains a mix of dated and undated written documents and correspondence both concerning and not concerning Blanche Fiscus Greaves. There is correspondence to Greaves from the National Woman’s Party and the Department of Public Health of Philadelphia, as well as a 5 page unattributed poem and venom therapy pamphlet.
Of those photos, some are stamped with "B. BLANCH FISCUS", Greaves' maiden name, which indicates the collected photographs as her property. As the name stamped was her name before her marriage, the people in the portraits are likely friends and family. Some of her familial or personal relationships are conveyed by the photos, but there is no photograph documentation of her professional life or medical work.
There are some photographs in the collection which are of the same set of individuals, but no attempt has been made to match up previously identified people which those unidentified. There are also a great deal of unidentified portraits of which nothing is known about their connection or significance to Greaves. A strength of this collection is the number of portraits, which show an array of people perhaps important in Greaves' life.
The written documents and photographic materials in this collection were acquired at a flea market with no clear confirmation that all of the items belonged to Greaves' herself.
In the collection there are a few items of particular interest. In Box 1, Folder 8 contains a studio posed photograph of Greaves sitting with a fragmented skull (dated 1891). In Box 2, Folder 3 contains a full "Gem Album" of tintype portraits of a number of young men and women (dated 1887). There is also a small photography notebook, containing camera settings and weather conditions, and the presumed photographs corresponding to the notes within it (dated 1899).
There is also a wallet with "BLANCHE FISCUS GREAVES" stamped on the inside, and Greaves' 1891 "A Manual of Prescription Writing" textbook from her studies at Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania.
Key names: W W Fiscus, Mary Fiscus, W W Fiscus Jr., Dr. Harrison Adams Greaves, Florence Fiscus Greaves, Harrison Stone
Key photo studio names: C C Shadle (Kittanning, PA); T B Clark (Indiana, PA); A S Schrenckengost; W S Otto; Wertz Art Gallery
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Eva Whittaker