Women’s History Month: The first female graduates of UCSF

March is Women’s History Month and, in keeping with the spirit, we’d like to honor a few of the trailblazing women in UCSF’s history.

Portrait of Luzy Field Wanzer

Portrait of Lucy Field Wanzer

Lucy Field Wanzer became the first woman to graduate from UCSF, then officially known as the Medical Department of the University of California, in 1876. Lucy grew up in Wisconsin and cared for her mother who had tuberculosis during her childhood. This early and significant exposure to the field of medicine convinced Wanzer that she wanted to become a doctor. The family later moved to California, where Lucy fought for the right to realize her dream– her initial application to the University of California program was rejected based on gender. After a lengthy appeals process, she was accepted and the regents adopted a resolution stating that “young women offering themselves for admission and passing the required examination must be received to all the privileges of the Medical Department.”

Class of 1876

Medical Department of the University of California, Class of 1876

At the time, a few medical schools on the East Coast had admitted and graduated female students, but none in the West. For the fifty years following Wanzer’s graduation, female students comprised approximately 10% of UCSF medical graduates in the midst of a 4% national average.

Much more has been written about Wanzer elsewhere. For more information, check out the History of UCSF website, this article by a current School of Medicine student, or this extensive paper by a UCSF School of Medicine alumnus.

Blue and Gold, 1890, page 33

Blue and Gold, 1890, page 33


The next woman to breakdown gender barriers in a UCSF school was Maria Angelina Burch who graduated from the College of Dentistry in 1883. Maria grew up in nearby Pescadero, CA. Burch passed away at the age of 27, just five years after receiving her dental degree. Her obituary, on right, published in the 1890 Blue and Gold, the annual for all of the University of California, refers to Burch as the Dental Department’s ambitious and intelligent “pioneer lady graduate.” Burch established a private practice in San Francisco in 1884 which prospered quickly. She was described as “fast climbing the hill to fame and fortune” at the time of her death.


The Graduate, 1912, page 60

The Graduate, 1912, page 60

Following closely on Burch’s heels was Josephine Eugenia Barbat in the College of Pharmacy class of 1884. Barbat was a native San Franciscan. University records in the 1890’s show that after graduation, Josephine became an instructor of Botany within the College of Pharmacy– no doubt one of the first women to teach the subject, as well. Not quite satisfied, Barbat went on to graduate from the College of Medicine in 1903. She’s listed in the 1904 Directory of Physicians and Surgeons as having a practice at 1310 Folsom St. The 1912 issue of The Graduate, the College of Pharmacy’s annual at the time, features a photograph of Josephine as the President of W.P.A.P.C. (the Women’s Pharmaceutical Association of the Pacific Coast).

The creation of the Training School for Nurses within the University of California in 1907 also served to up the number of women in the field of medicine. Two years later, the school produced its first graduate, Lillian Cohen, pictured below in the unique white mortarboard cap and square blue and gold pin.

Lillian Cohen

Lillian Cohen, 1909

A three-year nursing degree was standard at the time in the Nursing program, and the following year the University of California graduated its first full class.

Training School for Nurses, Class of 1910

Training School for Nurses of the University of California, Class of 1910

Today, UCSF celebrates the diversity of its students, staff, and community in many different ways. In 2012, 54% of all incoming students were female. Do you have a favorite woman in UCSF history? Let us know!

Fiat Lux: Ansel Adams images of UCSF

UCSF Anniversary LogoPublished in 1967 Fiat Lux: The University of California is dedicated to “those who will make the future.” This book was commissioned by UC President Clark Kerr in the early 1960s. He invited photographer Ansel Adams and writer Nancy Newhall to not only commemorate the past and present of the University, but to project, as far as possible, “the next hundred years.” This was a challenging idea and the authors spent three years touring the nine campuses as well as scientific and agricultural experimental stations, meeting hundreds of people from chancellors to freshmen. Ansel Adams produced 605 fine prints and over 6,700 negatives for this centennial publication that is just 192 pages long and this endeavor almost rivals his body of work dedicated to Yosemite.
At the beginning of the book the authors profiled the campuses or as they were called by Clark Kerr, “Cities of Intellect” and they selected a beautiful panoramic image of the UCSF campus, as viewed from the Golden Gate Park. This photograph together with seven others was also used for the UCSF School of Medicine centennial celebration program in 1964.

University of California San Francisco Medical Center from the tower of De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, August 1964

University of California San Francisco Medical Center from the tower of De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, August 1964

The authors of the volume witnessed rebuilding and expansion all around the University, including the UCSF campus where the old medical building that was photographed for the project was demolished in 1967.


Ansel Adams, Clock Tower of old Affiliated Colleges building, with new structures in fog, August 1964

Fiat Lux includes just 5 photographs of the UCSF campus, but there are dozens of others that can be found in the Ansel Adams Fiat Lux collection on the UCR/California Museum of Photography website.

If you would like to learn more about the book, please visit the Bancroft Library website created for the recent exhibit “Fiat Lux Redux: Ansel Adams and Clark Kerr” that featured 50 original photographs selected from Ansel Adams prints in Bancroft’s collection.
The book Fiat Lux: The University of California is available at the UCSF Library.

UCSF’s 150th Anniversary

Earlier this year the UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellman, MD, MPH sent out a message to the campus community announcing key events that will be organized to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of UC San Francisco. The UCSF’s sesquicentennial celebration will start this year with the Founders Day events in April and continue through May 2015. Additional details can be found on the website that was developed for the 150th anniversary.

UCSF Anniversary Logo

UCSF Anniversary Logo

For the past several months the archives staff has been working on several projects that document and bring to life the rich history of UCSF. Our stories about these projects will be accompanied by the UCSF Anniversary Logo, and today we are publishing the first installment from these series.

Historic Panoramic Photograph of San Francisco, circa 1933-1935

Use our slideshow below to view this beautiful panoramic photograph of San Francisco taken in the 1930s from the Parnassus campus of UCSF. The photograph is comprised of ten discrete photographs taped together to form an almost seamless panoramic image measuring 4.5″ x 54″ looking north and spanning west to east.

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the images and see the slideshow.

Unfortunately, the photograph lacks accompanying information about its creation, however, several significant qualities have helped us to narrow down the date. Most significantly, in the second portion of the close-ups, on the right side, the unfinished Golden Gate Bridge is visible. The pylons closest to San Francisco can be seen, but not the suspension cables which, according to the Golden Gate Bridge Construction Timeline, puts the image somewhere in 1933-1935.

Other things of note include the presence of the original Kezar Stadium (former home of the SF 49ers and Oakland Raiders), the absence of the Bay Bridge (which was also under construction from 1933-1936), and the generally bare Presidio area.

What strikes you most about the photo? Let us know! We’d love to hear your insights into the old San Francisco landscape.


New Additions to the Eric Berne Collections

The Eric L. Berne Collection grew by another 8.5 linear feet a few weeks ago, when additional records arrived at Special Collections. The International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) and the Berne family have generously placed a large collection of Eric Berne’s early papers and educational records on deposit with UCSF for public research and use. The ITAA has also donated a collection of audio recordings of Berne’s Transactional Analysis lectures and of San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminar meetings (1963-1970). This new accession in particular documents Berne’s medical school education at McGill University in Montreal and his early career as a psychiatrist. It also includes more of his professional and creative writings in several languages, and contains fascinating ephemera from his frequent research trips around the world.

Berne's ticket to travel in Turkey, 1938

Berne’s ticket to travel in Turkey, 1938

Photograph page of Berne's ticket to travel in Turkey, 1938

Photograph page of Berne’s ticket to travel in Turkey, 1938

Three-dimensional objects are represented as well, such as an original version of the board game based on Berne’s bestselling book Games People Play.

Board game based on Berne's bestselling book "Games People Play"

This collection will be processed in the next several weeks and linked to other rich materials in the related Berne collections. Online finding aids to these materials are coming soon.