Mar 242017

Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women30 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1HU

In 1886, six years before the first women were admitted to study medicine at the Scottish Universities, Sophia Jex-Blake set up the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women in Chambers Street. During its existence it educated approximately 80 women, with 33 of them completing the course. During its existence the school was never entirely free of financial difficulties and it closed its doors for the last time in 1898. By this time the battle to gain access to medical education had largely been won and the Scottish Universities had been admitting women to study medicine since 1892.

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Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912).

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912).

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  5 Responses to “Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women”

  1. Hello.
    I’m researching Dr Helen Macdougall, and her graduation records from Edinburgh University list her as studying at the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women from 1910 to 1915. Any thoughts on how this can be, if it closed in 1898? Would appreciate any help.

    • Hi Toria, an interesting question which I will pass on to colleagues. Sophie Jex Blake, who established the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women did set up Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women after the School of Medicine for Women closed (see: We know that women were admitted to clinical training from 1872 (as noted on this Lothian Health Service Archive overview: but in separate classes and with some restrictions. I wonder if Macdougall may have been one of these students to have received instruction as part of a female cohort at the University.

    • Hello Toria,

      I hope it is not too late to comment. I didn’t see your note till today, but I am interested to know more
      about Dr Helen MacDougall, since she was a member of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals that is my
      topic of interest for years. Do you at least know her birth place and dates of birth and death, so that I could search for more information.

      • My apologies for not seeing this exchange until now. I hope my reply can still be of some use. The ESMW did close in 1898, as stated, and the Edinburgh Medical College for Women, which operated from 1889-90 until 1908-09, was the main route into medicine for women in Edinburgh. But when the University sold the building in Chambers Street, the EMCW was without a home, and it was wound up. In its place a group of lecturers from the Extra-Mural School of Medicine in Edinburgh (i.e., those giving lectures outside the University) set up a new ESMW, which operated until after the First World War, because the University remained strongly resistant to teaching men and women jointly. I only have the same information as Toria and Slavica about Helen McDougall; a birth year and place would allow me to follow her up in more detail.

  2. Hi there I am wondering if there is a record of Emilia Margaret Guthrie. I know she enrolled in1890 at the London School of Medicine for Women but I have a feeling she transferred to Edinburgh. I think her birth year was 1859. Interested in her work or anything at all. Many thanks Rachel

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