Lozier, Clemence Sophia Harned

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Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier

American physician Clemence Lozier (1813–1888) struggled against the tide to earn the right to attend medical school, in the mid–1800s, when the field was ruled by men. The discrimination Lozier faced inspired a lifetime of female activism.

Lozier was tired of watching qualified female candidates get turned away from medical schools, so she opened her own school, exclusively for women, in New York in 1863. The school's hospital provided the first place in New York where women could be treated by doctors of their own gender. Lozier was also involved with the women's right–to–vote movement, serving as president of the New York City Woman Suffrage Society for 13 years. A highly successful doctor, Lozier used her earnings to support both her school and the suffrage movement.

Born to Family of Healers

Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier came into this world on December 11, 1813, in Plainfield, New Jersey. She was the youngest of 13 children born to Hannah (Walker) and David Harned. Though spelled Clemence, her name was pronounced "Clemency" by her family. Given the time period, this was not an unusual name for a girl, since Charity and Patience were also popular. Lozier's father was a farmer and devout Methodist—his brothers were ministers of that faith.

Lozier's interest in medicine was sparked by her mother, a Quaker woman who served as the neighborhood "medicine woman." Sick children and adults always came to Lozier's mother for help. Hannah Lozier had learned healing techniques while living among the Native Americans in Virginia. Growing up, Lozier watched her mother's capable hands heal time and time again and she decided she wanted to learn the craft as well. When Lozier was a child, two of her older brothers had already left home and were in training to become doctors. Lozier was apparently a precocious child. Her mother once wrote her brothers to tell them their sister had an unusual mind and deserved a high–quality education.

This did not happen. When Lozier was 11, her parents died, leaving her an orphan. She was sent to live and be educated at the Plainfield Academy but escaped as a teen to marry an architect/carpenter named Abraham Witton Lozier, who was many years her senior. They married around 1829 and Abraham Lozier constructed a home for them on Tenth Street in New York City. Lozier gave birth to at least five children, though some sources say seven. Only one, Abraham Witton Jr., lived through childhood. Two of Lozier's children died in unspecified accidents and Lozier attributed two other deaths to the poor medicine of the day that relied on drastic drugging to cure ailments. Lozier's surviving son followed in his mother's footsteps, also becoming a doctor.

Opened School for Girls in Home

Shortly after their marriage, Lozier's husband fell ill and could not work anymore. Forced to support the family, Lozier opened a girls' school in their home around 1832. Lozier soon established herself as a popular and highly–regarded teacher, enrolling girls from some of New York City's most prominent families. She taught an average of 60 students a year for the next decade. Lozier had always been interested in anatomy and hygiene and she stunned conservatives by covering these topics in her school. At the time, these subjects were considered inappropriate for young women. Lozier, however, had a firm grasp on these subjects because her doctor–brother was tutoring her on the side.

Around this time, Lozier also got involved with reform work, particularly with the New York Moral Reform Society, which aimed to steer women away from work as prostitutes and "reform" those who had fallen into it. Highly religious, Lozier edited the Moral Reform Gazette and held in her home weekly gatherings to "promote holiness." Lozier's husband died in 1837. In time, she moved to Albany, New York, and busied herself with charitable work for the poor. She continued her lectures for women on physiology and hygiene at local churches. Around this time, Lozier married a man named John Baker, but they later separated and divorced in 1861.

Pursued Medical Degree

More and more, Lozier knew she wanted to become a doctor but knew she faced an uphill battle to get admitted to medical school—a purely male domain in the 1840s. Lozier ignored the desire until 1849, when she heard about the success of Elizabeth Blackwell, who had graduated from the Geneva Medical College of New York that year. Lozier applied to the school but officials feared a scandal should they admit another woman.

Undaunted, Lozier pressed on and finally persuaded the Central Medical College of Rochester to allow her to attend its medical lectures. She was later admitted to New York's Syracuse Medical College. After earning her medical degree in March 1853, Lozier returned to her New York City home and opened her own practice. In an age where there were virtually no medical school trained female doctors, Lozier launched a successful practice, specializing in obstetrics and surgery.

Lozier's success can be attributed not only to her steadfast personality, but also to her timing and connections. Lozier opened her practice around the same time obstetricians began using anesthetics and surgery in their care. Queen Victoria had ushered in a new age with the use of chloroform during the 1853 delivery of her seventh child. The practice of using chloroform and surgical techniques during delivery was gaining ground just as Lozier opened her doors. Many of the young women Lozier had taught were now married and required obstetrical care, and they trusted their old teacher. In her book These Were the Women, Mary Ormsbee Whitton noted that a fellow doctor once described Lozier as "the most ceaseless, tireless, sleepless worker I have ever seen."

Founded Women's Medical College

Around 1860, Lozier began a series of lectures from her home on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene because these topics were regularly neglected in women's education. She organized her own medical library so she could offer these types of books to curious women. Her classes were always packed, causing Lozier to realize that women desired—and deserved—more training in these areas. Men could learn these things at medical school but women could not. During this time period, women were considered intellectually inferior to men and therefore excluded from medical training. Male physicians also thought women were too squeamish for the job. Despite the negative attitudes, Lozier, with the help of women's–rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was able to persuade the legislature to grant her a charter for a women's medical college.

The New York Medical College and Hospital for Women opened on November 1, 1863, the first women's medical college in the state. There were seven women in the inaugural class. The struggle, however, was far from over. According to the charter, Lozier's students were given the right to attend clinics at the Bellevue Hospital in conjunction with their studies at her medical school. However, the male students and professors made it clear they were not welcome, greeting them with hisses and jeers. At one point, the women required police escorts to attend clinics. The school faced many struggles those first years but Lozier kept it running using money from her own pocket. Though women were accepted at Lozier's school, they could not become members of the American Medical Association, even after earning their degrees. The AMA, founded in 1846, did not accept female members until 1915. According to an article on the Notable Women Ancestors website, Lozier's granddaughter, Jessica Lozier Payne, summed up her grandmother's success this way: "Although forceful in character, she gained results by persuasion and example. Many and difficult were her problems, but sustained and inspired by her active faith, she solved them."

Despite its bumpy start, the school grew and over the next 25 years placed more than 200 female graduates in practices all across the United States. Women from other countries came to receive training as well. In the 1860s, Canadian Emily Stowe enrolled after being refused admission to every medical school in Canada. Likewise, Maria Augusta Generoso Estrella graduated from Lozier's school in 1882 and returned to her native Brazil, becoming her country's first female physician. The school's hospital was run by Lozier's students and graduates and cared for about 200 patients annually. The school's clinics, however, served about 2,000 patients per year, highly popular because it was about the only place in the city where female patients could be treated by doctors of the same gender.

At first, Lozier was president of the college and chair of the Department of Diseases of Women and Children. In 1867, she traveled to Europe to study medical practices there. When she returned, she instituted curriculum and equipment changes and initiated a reorganization that made her dean and professor of obstetrics and gynecology. In June 1868, the college purchased land to build a new school and hospital. Lozier also stayed busy writing and published a few medical texts during her lifetime, occasionally contributing to medical journals. Her most noted work was an 1870 pamphlet called Child–Birth Made Easy.

Involved with Woman Suffrage Movement

Lozier's home was also a meeting place for advocates of women's causes. She counted Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton among her friends and visitors. When Anthony had trouble finding enough money to publish her weekly dispatch The Revolution, Lozier helped out. Active in the women's suffrage movement, Lozier was president of the New York City Woman Suffrage Society from 1873 to 1886 and the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1877 to 1878. She was involved with other causes as well, serving as president of the Moral Education Society of New York and of the Woman's American Temperance League. A social reformer, Lozier also hosted meetings of the anti–slavery society. Her home became a storehouse for various pamphlets touting the causes of the day, from women's suffrage to temperance.

On April 24, 1888, Lozier delivered the main address at her medical school's 25th commencement ceremony. Two days later, on April 26, she died. Lozier had seen patients right up to her death. She worked on April 26, saw friends and patients, but that evening complained of pain and fatigue. Lozier later summoned her maid and told her she feared an attack of angina. She died later that night. She was 74. Lozier was buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Writing about his mother in memoriam, Abraham Witton Lozier Jr., had this to say, according to an article posted on the Notable Women Ancestors website: "Perhaps no woman of her age has accomplished so much in so many different directions for women. No one ever inspired women more with faith in themselves, nor ever a readier hand worked with a readier heart for mankind." The New York Medical College and Hospital for Women closed in 1918 when it was absorbed by the New York Medical College and Fifth Avenue Hospital. Lozier's portrait, however, was placed at the affiliated school. In 1920, women earned the right to vote, some 50 years after Lozier first took up the cause.


Famous American Women: A Biographical Dictionary from Colonial Times to the Present, edited by Robert McHenry, Dover Publications, 1980.

Notable American Women 1607–1950, edited by Edward T. James, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Whitton, Mary Ormsbee, These Were the Women U.S.A. 1776–1860, Hastings House, 1954.


"Dr. Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier," Notable Women Ancestors Website,http://www.rootsweb.com/~nwa/clemence.html (January 9, 2005).

"History of the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women," Notable Women Ancestors Website,http://www.rootsweb.com/~nwa/college.html (January 9, 2005).

"Lozier, Clemence Sophia," History of Homeopathy Biographies Websitehttp://www.homeoint.org/history/bio/l/loziercs.htm (January 9, 2005).