Hurd-Mead, Kate Campbell (1867–1941)

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Hurd-Mead, Kate Campbell (1867–1941)

American physician. Born April 6, 1867, in Danville, Quebec, Canada; died January 1, 1941, in Haddam, Connecticut; daughter of Edward Payson and Sarah Elizabeth (Campbell) Hurd; educated at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (in Philadelphia) and the New England Hospital for Women and Children (in Boston) and did postgraduate studies in Paris, Stockholm, London, and Vienna; married William Edward Mead (a college professor), on June 21, 1893.

Specialized in women's and children's health; participated in and helped found several organizations dedicated to women's and children's health issues; wrote Medical Women of America (1933) and A History of Women in Medicine from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century (1938).

Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead was born on April 6, 1867, the oldest of three children of Edward Payson Hurd and Sarah Elizabeth Hurd . When she was three, her family moved from Quebec, Canada, to her mother's birthplace of Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she attended public school. After her graduation in 1883, she studied with private tutors. Both Kate and her sister, Mabeth Hurd Paige , were ambitious in their goals: Mabeth became a distinguished lawyer and a state legislator in Minnesota, and Kate, determined to follow in her father's footsteps, even broke an engagement because her fiancé did not want her to become a doctor. In 1888, she received her M.D. from the Woman's Medical College and then spent a year interning in Boston before going on to postgraduate work in Europe.

In 1890, Hurd returned to the States and began working in Baltimore as the medical director at Bryn Mawr School for girls. This was one of the first schools in America to initiate a health program that was preventative in nature, with such unusual features as physical education and periodic examinations. During this time she also had a private practice. In 1891, Hurd and Dr. Alice Hall founded a private charitable institution, the Evening Dispensary for Working Women and Girls of Baltimore City, that was a forerunner in the movement for maternal hygiene and infant well-being. This institution also gave women doctors the opportunity to practice, something that had been lacking before.

After Hurd married William Mead in 1893, they settled in Middletown, Connecticut, where he taught Early English at Wesleyan University. Hurd-Mead was an incorporator of Middlesex County Hospital in 1895 and continued to study and advance women's medicine, eventually specializing in women's and children's diseases. She was organizer of the Middletown District Nurses Association (1900), vice-president of the State Medical Society of Connecticut (1913–1914), organizer of the Medical Women's International Association (1919), president of the American Medical Women's Association (1922–1924), and a financial supporter of the American Women's Hospitals, which backed women physicians in undeveloped regions of the world. From 1907 to 1925, Hurd-Mead served as the consulting gynecologist for Middlesex County Hospital. In 1925, she retired from practice and began to research the history of women in medicine. She spent two years in England at the British Museum Library and then went on to gather information on women physicians in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In 1929, Hurd-Mead and her husband settled in Haddam, Connecticut, and worked on their writing. Medical Women in America was published in 1933, followed in 1938 by A History of Women in Medicine from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century. This was the first of a projected trilogy intended to detail the history of women in medicine into the present time, which was left uncompleted when the 73-year-old Hurd-Mead suffered a fatal heart attack while running to help an injured caretaker. She was buried in Middletown. Her vast collection of medical history was bequeathed to the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania along with a fund that provided for an annual lecture on the history of women in medicine.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Karina L. Kerr , M.A., Ypsilanti, Michigan

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Hurd-Mead, Kate Campbell (1867–1941)

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