Emma Wilson Davidson Mooers, MD

 

Emma Wilson Davidson Mooers, MD

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Title: Emma Wilson Davidson Mooers, MD
Abstract: Emma Mooers was among the first of what has been called the "invisible faculty" - physicians and scientists who, because they were women, served the Medical School without the benefit of a faculty appointment.

Born in 1858 in Greendale, Wisconsin, Mooers received her degree in medicine from the University of Michigan in 1884. She came to Massachusetts and practiced general medicine successfully for ten years, for much of this time in Arlington. In 1896 she began the study of neuropathology under the direction of Dr. E. W. Taylor at the Medical School. Before 1900 she held laboratory positions at several state institutions, and in 1901 began work with Dr. August Hoch at the McLean Hospital. From 1903 to 1910, Mooers lived in Germany, studying with Benda, Weigert, Kraepelin, and Alzheimer. Her knowledge of her subject, as well as her fluency in French and German, made her a valuable assistant and teacher in Alzheimer's laboratory, with whose work she was particularly associated.

Upon her return to this country in 1910, she began her work with Dr. E.E. Southard, Bullard Professor of Neuropathology, at the Harvard Medical School. Southard had studied for a few months with Weigert and Kraepelin, shortly before his first Medical School appointment in 1904. It seems more than likely that Mooers and Southard had met in Germany, possibly working side by side, as they were to do at the Medical School.

In any case, Southard was a strong promoter of Mooers's interests. Southard was dissatisfied with the title selected for Mooers, "Custodian of the Neuropathological Collection"; he sent numerous letters to University President Lawrence A. Lowell regarding this matter, concluding that "Assistant Director of the Neuropathological Laboratory" would more properly represent her research and other activities. Mooers, however, was appointed as Custodian; she rarely even attained the title of "Dr." in University correspondence, being referred to instead as "Miss", nomenclature to which Southard objected.

In 1911, Mooers and Southard contracted a streptoccocal infection while conducting an autopsy. Southard eventually recovered. Mooers, who cut herself during her examination of the brain, died on May 31st. She was remembered in a long obituary in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal and a bronze plaque was installed near the laboratory in her honor.

For more information about Mooers, see "The Invisible Faculty" by Eleanor Shore, M.D. Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin, Spring 1983.

Image 1 - Bronze plaque, 1911, in memory of Emma Wilson Mooers

Image 2 - Emma Wilson Davidson Mooers, M.D., Custodian of the Neuropathological Collection at the Harvard Medical School, ca. 1900, a copy of a photograph from an unknown source
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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10473/1808

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