A medical pioneer in late 19th century West Coast.
Charlotte Amanda Blake, nicknamed Lotte, was born in Philadelphia. In her childhood the family moved often following missionary work, living in Maine, California, and Chile. At age 20, she graduated from Elmira College in New York. The following year she married and worked as a nurse. After giving birth to her third child, she left to attend the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
When she graduated, Blake Brown returned to her family in the Bay Area. In 1875, at the age of 30, she co-founded together with Dr. Sara E. Brown and Dr. Martha E. Bucknell, the Pacific Dispensary for Women and Children in San Francisco. It was a unique institution – employing strictly all-female staff and serving only women and children patients. Five years after its incorporation, the dispensary opened West Coast’s first Training School for Nurses. It later became San Francisco’s Children’s Hospital.
In addition to serving as a physician and surgeon, she wrote eighteen articles for scientific journals. Her famous paper “The Health of Our Girls” (1896) proved the link between lifestyle and poor health with teenage girls. Blake Brown was also an innovator – inventing a milk sterilizing device and establishing a registry bank of data on cancer patients.
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- The first time she applied for the San Francisco Medical Society in 1875, she was denied membership because of gender discrimination. Two years later, she was admitted.
- Her daughter Adelaide and son Philip became physicians as well.
- She did also charity work, helping to organize the California branch of the National Conference of Charities and Correction.