Hannah E. Myers Longshore, M.D.
In the 1800s, it was considered highly improper for a woman to know anything about anatomy. Women could serve as midwives and nurses, but to study a man's or even a woman's anatomy was just not done. As a result, women's health issues were an area of neglect in the medical profession, yet the study of science and medicine was a lifelong interest of Hannah Myers Longshore. She was raised as a Quaker and embraced this faith's strong abolitionist stance. When her husband, Thomas Longshore, lost his teaching position at New Lisbon (Ohio) School because of his writings in support of antislavery and the suffragist movement, they moved to Thomas' hometown of Langhorne (then known as Attleboro). Here, her brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph Longshore, tutored her and his sister, Anna Mary, in medicine, then founded the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later renamed Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania). A wife and mother at the age of 31, Hannah Myers Longshore enrolled in the newly established physician training program for women. It is reported that the graduation ceremony for the first class of this college had a heavy police presence to guard against violence from male physicians. Upon graduation, she was hired by the college as the first female Instructor of Anatomy and was one of the first female faculty members at any American medical school. She continued her teaching career at the New England Female College of Medicine and Penn Medical University, the latter also founded by Dr. Joseph Longshore to embrace a more "eclectic" curriculum. Hannah's two sisters followed her into the medical profession, graduating as physicians from Penn Medical University, and her daughter became a strong proponent of public health measures in Philadelphia.
Hannah Myers Longshore was the first female physician to establish and continue a private practice for over 40 years in Philadelphia. At one point her practice included nearly 300 families—larger than most other practices of the time -- and she saw up to 40 patients per day. Establishing her own practice was not without its challenges. Initially, male physicians in Philadelphia were openly hostile to the idea of a woman joining their ranks, subjecting her to "ribald derision" and advising her to "go home and darn your husband's socks." Her daughter, Lucretia, was shunned by classmates at Friends Central School, and was pelted with sticks and stones and taunted as "the woman doctor's child." Pharmacists refused to fill her prescriptions. To counter this, she stocked and dispensed her own medications. She wrote and spoke publicly on women's reproductive physiology and hygiene in her "Lectures to Women." She was encouraged in this by her close friend, women's rights leader Lucretia Mott, for whom her daughter was named. These lectures on sexual matters shocked conservative members of society but brought to light the need for education and treatment in women's reproductive health. Interestingly, many of the male physicians who publicly criticized her sent their wives and daughters to her private practice. Through her pioneering determination, Dr. Hannah Myers Longshore is widely credited with paving the way for acceptance of training female physicians.
Dr. Longshore's lasting influence was not limited to medicine. She was active in the Antislavery Society of Philadelphia. As reported by her daughter, Lucretia, her house was used as a stop on the underground railroad. Dr. Longshore's lasting influence was not limited to medicine. It is interesting to note that, while Lucretia did not pursue a career in medicine, she did fully embrace her parents' strong beliefs in equal rights for women. With her husband, Rudolph Blankenburg, the couple embarked on public campaigns for reform, including establishing night classes for working women. Lucretia was president of the Pennsylvania Women's Suffrage Association, advocated for female representation on school boards, and secured a law which provided that a married woman who contributed to the support of her children should have an equal right to the custody and care of the minor children. She also worked for years to gain legal protection for widows. Lucretia lobbied for the creation of female police matrons, a role akin to social workers who supported women in unfortunate circumstances. As early as 1903, she was advocating for environmental laws to alleviate the growing problem of smog in Philadelphia. A lifelong Quaker, Lucretia was a firm believer in the "Unity in Diversity," and founded a number of clubs in the city to push social causes. Her influence as a sought-after speaker and social organizer continued when her husband, Rudoph Blakenburg, was elected mayor of Philadelphia in 1911, where he became the leader of many reform movements of the day in that city.
Adaline Satterthwaite, originally from California, graduated magna cum laude from Pomona College in 1937 with a degree in chemistry, then completed her MD degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of California at San Francisco in 1942. In 1944, she moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she began her 40 year career in international public health, specifically in maternal and child health care. There she met and married medical engineer William Satterthwaite of Yardley, PA. They traveled with their infant son, David, to rural China to work as medical missionaries. Adaline was active in the UNICEF "Barefoot Doctors" program in which villagers were trained to give basic medical care to their communities. Two years after her young husband's tragic death in 1949, Adaline and her four-year-old son briefly returned to the US, where she continued her residency in gynecology and female urology at Woman's Medical College of Philadelphia (the same medical college where Dr. Hannah Myers Longshore and Anna Mary Longshore-Potts attended!), then settled in Puerto Rico. Dr. Penny, as she was known, was very moved by the poverty and suffering she saw there, particularly the plight of women who were struggling to care for their many children. In response to their begging for help in family planning, Adaline became involved in early trials of oral contraceptives, this at a time when contraception was highly controversial. She included her rigorously collected data in numerous journal articles; these data led to FDA approval of the first oral contraceptive (The Pill). Information about her research is included in the exhibit "Better than Nature" at the Smithsonian Museum of American Life in Washington, DC. Dr. Satterthwaite's work in international family planning expanded to include in work for The Ford Foundation, and the Population Council of the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. Her work with these organizations took her to Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, and Venezuela. By the time she retired in the 1980s, she had served as a medical consultant in more than 30 countries.
Her son, David, lived with her in China and then in Puerto Rico until he was about 14. By the time he was in 8th grade, Adaline put him into the care of his father's Quaker family members of Lower Makefield while she continued her medical career in volatile and often dangerous settings abroad. David was educated at George School and, after college, settled in Langhorne Manor, raised three daughters with his wife, Betsy, and spent his career teaching Spanish at George School.
When Adaline retired from her medical career in the 1980s, she moved to Langhorne to be with her family, and immediately became active in many community organizations. Her 20+ years in retirement in Langhorne were just as busy as her 40+ years as an international doctor and researcher. She served on the National Board of the Medical College of Pennsylvania, the Medical Board of Bucks County Planned Parenthood, the Board of Newtown Friends School, and the Board of the Bucks County YWCA. She was also an active volunteer in the League of Women Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Meals on Wheels, and Middletown Society of Friends at Langhorne. She used her fluent Spanish to translate for patients at Doylestown Hospital and a Hispanic community in Bristol. A strong proponent of peace, Dr. Satterthwaite became one of the first full-time staff of The Peace Center, an outgrowth of her work with the California-based Beyond Wars Project. In 2002, she was awarded the Bucks County Women's History Award for her volunteer activity in the community. Her professional awards are many, and included the NCIH International Health Award "in recognition of her outstanding contribution to improving health for people throughout the world," and The Women's Health Award of the American Medical Association in recognition of her lifelong efforts to improve the health and quality of life for women in developing countries through contraception. Obviously, Dr. Satterthwaite's work also had far-reaching implications for women worldwide.
Alma McCormick was born in Philadelphia on May 9, 1922. Her father worked for PTC. Her mother dropped out of school at the age of 13. Education was very important to her family. They saved their money to send their daughter Alma to college. The Great Depression caused them to lose all of their savings, yet they scraped together enough money to send Alma to secretarial school. She went to work for the Boy Scouts, She met her Jack Willits, and they dated until he volunteered for World War II, They were married only four days when he shipped out overseas for four years, She worked during the war years and waited for her husband to come home. Alma once spoke to Langhorne Rotary about what is was like to be a war bride in Philadelphia and shared the many challenges she faced.
The city girl moved to Siles, Pennsylvania in 1949 and her first day in the country she had to fight off a large groundhog and a cow that were on her front yard. Quite a shock for a hundred percent city girl. She raised her family in that little area of Siles and became an active member of Scottsville Methodist Church. She was the official church historian and researched all the records back to the beginning of this community of faith. The church was founded in 1865 and her research traced back to its original beginnings, She was a woman deeply rooted in her faith and fully lived its teachings.
Despite not having gone to college, she was an extremely intelligent woman and became frustrated, just being at home when her children went off to college. She decided to go work for the travel agency at the Neshaminy Mall. Being a quick learner, she moved on to other travel agencies in the Bucks County area.
In 1972 she decided to open her own travel agency. This was at a time where very few women owned travel agencies. Most travel agencies at that time were owned by men and had 98 percent female employees. She met with Hannah Gratz in Bristol, Pa, who became a mentor, and decided to take the risk and open her own agency. At that time agencies had many regulations involving ownership She opened the business in Richboro in November 1972. She received many challenges from men owners of other agencies who wanted to prevent her from opening the business.
Alma became quite a world traveler, visiting almost a 100 countries and planning trips for thousands of customers. She was known for escorting High School and Radio Disc Jockey trips all over the world. She took one of the first high school groups into the Soviet Union.
Will Travel was born Nov 03 1972. The company grew under her leadership. At its largest point, it had nine locations and did 15 million dollars in business. Alma’s daughter, Donna Thomas, took over and developed it in the following years. Alma’s granddaughter, Kari Thomas, then became the President and is managing the office today. Kari was also town council president of Langhorne Borough for several years.
The office moved to Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Alma’s travel agency boasts 50 years of female ownership. The agency has faced many problems, including a recession, Airline deregulation, 911, and Covid, yet the company survives. The company has employed over 300 people in its history, of which 95% were women. Alma, her daughter Donna, and her granddaughter Kari Thomas, became the first three generations of females to hold the prestigious Certified Travel Counselor degree.
The company is centered in the heart of Langhorne Borough and it is a testament to the strength and faith and integrity of Alma Willits who started the company at the age of 50. This year we remember her 100th birthday and the company's 50th anniversary. We hope it continues for many generations to give employment to the people of our community.
Claire Smith is a graduate of Neshaminy High School, the daughter of Bernice, a chemist, and William, an acclaimed illustrator, painter, and sculptor. Claire’s passions went in a different direction. In the field of sports writing, Claire found a way to combine her love of baseball with her interest in journalism. This was in the 1970s, when women were banned from the locker rooms of men’s professional sports teams until a Federal court ruling ended that discriminatory practice. Claire became Major League Baseball’s first full-time female beat reporter, covering the NY Yankees from 1983-1987. She also wrote for the New York Times and was an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Claire later became the coordinating editor for ESPN, and is now the co-director of the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media at Temple University. Claire has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize and has won numerous prestigious awards in her trailblazing career. In 2017, Claire became the first woman and fourth African American sportswriter to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony in Cooperstown, she told the crowd, “I humbly stand on stage for those who were stung by racism or sexism or any other insidious bias and persevered.”
“It’s safe to say she was fighting battles and she was opening doors a generation of women have walked right through because of her and because of other pioneers like her,” USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan said of Claire Smith in 2018. “She was paving the way for women and for people of color, in a very important way.”
Mollie Woods Hare
Mollie Woods Hare was a Philadelphia school teacher. She played an important role in the development and advancement in the theory and practice of educating children with developmental disabilities.
Hare was the founder of Woods Services in Langhorne, PA. Her vision was to provide care for children in a home-like environment that encourages the children to maximize their abilities “to meet the problems of everyday life, to make normal adjustments, to acquire sources of satisfaction for the present as well as for later years, and to know the joy of achievement.” This was at a time when children with disabilities were kept hidden, institutionalized, and given custodial care at best. At Woods Services, children with special needs were -- and still are -- integrated into the community.
Hare became an international leader in the field of disabilities—emphasizing the need to develop individualized programs of support to help each person achieve to the best of his/her ability, to increase participation in activities of daily living, and to live a life of quality and community. Hare sponsored conferences, conducted research and published journal articles in the field of special education and rehabilitation. From the original 25-student school, Woods Services has grown to be an internationally acclaimed education and training facility for over 600 children and adults that remains faithful to Hare's mission and philosophy.
Alma McCormick Willits
1922 - 2018
Langhorne Council for the Arts partnered with representatives of Middletown Friends Meeting, Historic Langhorne Association, Four Lanes End Garden Club, and Langhorne Blue to form the ad hoc "Women's Centennial Committee of Langhorne." The purpose of the committee was to celebrate women's history in 2020 -- the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
Due to the pandemic, most of the committee's plans were put on hold until 2022, but one major idea -- that of permanent public art -- moved forward. With the guidance of local historian, Florence Wharton, the committee developed criteria for inclusion in a mural that would honor local women. To qualify, (1) women had to have been groundbreaking and exceptional, given the social constraints of their time; (2) their accomplishments had to have far-reaching effects; and (3) they had to have lived at least a portion of their life in Langhorne. Mural artist and Langhorne resident, Jean-Marc Dubus, was commissioned to make the committee's vision a reality.
There is no question that Langhorne, while small geographically, boasts a large number of remarkable women who have made significant contributions to their community and fields of endeavor. Education, healthcare, social services, service in local government, preserving the environment and open space, entrepreneurship -- this is just a sampling of the ways so many Langhorne women have excelled, and it would be impossible to create a mural large enough to include them all. We recognized this truth when we developed the criteria: that the accomplishments of women today are only possible because of the strong women of the past who were determined to break glass ceilings, forge new paths, and fight for equality in all areas of life. Therefore, let it be known that the women pictured on the mural are honored because of their remarkable achievements and contributions to society which benefited generations of women who followed. It is our hope that the stories of these women and the many amazing women who followed will inspire girls and young women for generations to come.
Anna Mary Williamson
Anna Mary Williamson was born in the Oxford Valley area of Middletown Township in 1837. In her later years, she lived in a lovely brick house (most recently a bank) on the corner of S. Bellevue and W. Richardson, right next to the Women's Mural. Miss Williamson never married.
Anna Mary Williamson’s family, including her uncle Isaiah VanSant Williamson, a noted Quaker merchant and philanthropist, instilled in her a reverence for learning. In her will, she left $12,000, a huge sum of money for that time, for the purchase of a site and the construction of a library building in Langhorne. This library, a beautiful Romanesque Revival Victorian building built of bricks from the Langhorne Brick Yard, was the first building in Bucks County to be illuminated by electricity. It served the town until the 1970s when the Bucks County Library System built Pennwood Library. Because her will stipulated that the building would remain a library "forever," Historic Langhorne Association established a research library in the building. Today the building is also used as a museum of local history and artifacts, and houses archival documents and information about Langhorne's past and present. In her will, Anna Mary Williamson also left funds for books in the Newtown and Yardley libraries.
Anna Mary Williamson also provided sizable amounts of money for the Middletown Preparative Meeting School in Langhorne, the Children’s Country Week Association, a Philadelphia-based summer camp organization for needy city children, and the Schofield Normal and Industrial School for Negro Youth in Aiken, South Carolina. The Schofield School was established and maintained by her friend from Newtown, Martha Schofield, who answered President Lincoln's call to educate freed African Americans after the Civil War. Although little is known of Anna Mary Williamson's day-to-day life, she clearly had a large impact on the education of Langhorne citizens, and was equally supportive of the education and welfare of children and youth from Philadelphia and South Carolina who came from disadvantaged circumstances -- remarkable for a single woman of wealth and vision from a tiny borough in the 1880s.
Adaline "Penny" Pendleton Satterthwaite
(1917 - 2005)
Anna-Mary Longshore-Potts, MD
Anna-Mary Longshore-Potts was a physician and medical lecturer, born in Attleboro, now Langhorne.
Dr. Longshore-Potts, at age 22, was one of the first class of eight women in Pennsylvania who graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) in 1852—the first college where women could earn a medical degree. (That college, started by her brother, Dr. Joseph Longshore, also of Langhorne, is now part of Drexel University). Like her sister-in-law, Hannah Myers Longshore, she started a lucrative practice in Philadelphia but due to her own health concerns, she returned to Langhorne and married Lambert Potts, a local merchant, in 1857. They had one son.
To place Dr. Longshore-Potts in context, it must be understood that information at that time was commonly disseminated by public lecture; however, lectures about healthcare were typically presented by charlatans and "snake-oil" salesmen, designed to sell "cures" rather than impart any factual information. Dr. Longshore-Potts was groundbreaking in that she, an accredited physician and a woman, would impart her wisdom and training in lecturers that actually helped people. Believing that the highest calling of a physician was to prevent disease, Dr. Longshore-Potts became a much sought-after lecturer on disease prevention and women's health and family issues. Her lectures were so popular that she was able to make travel and lecturing her full-time occupation, crisscrossing the country to present in large cities and small towns. Her fame spread internationally. In 1883, Dr. Longshore-Potts shared her medical advice with a packed exhibition hall of 4,500 attendees in New Zealand. This was followed by three years of lectures in Great Britain. So successful was Dr. Longshore Potts as a medical lecturer, she was able to purchase 20 acres of land near San Diego, had much of it converted to a garden, and had an elegant house constructed that, at the time, cost $40,000. This became the Paradise Valley Sanitarium, a popular health resort, which she opened with her brother, Dr. Joseph Longshore.
In addition to an extraordinary career as a lecturer, Dr. Longshore-Potts authored two books on women's reproductive health and hygiene. She died in San Diego in 1912 at the age of 84.