In recognition of Women’s History Month, a new exhibit titled “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives @UTMB” is now on display on the second floor of the Moody Medical Library.

The exhibit outlines the lives and achievements of nine extraordinary women, from 1897 to 1980, who studied and worked at UTMB. Some of their stories are accompanied by reflections written by women currently working at UTMB, including Drs. Joan Nichols and Susan McCammon.

Research Project Manager Paula Summerly, Ph.D., spearheaded the project.

Paula Summerly, Ph.D., in front of "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives @UTMB" exhibit“We have a rich medical heritage here at UTMB that includes some fascinating women who paved the way for others,” said Summerly. “When people see the exhibit, I want them to think about the history that we have here on campus. It’s not just drawings, but there are also manuscripts, photographs, specimens – collections that have been hidden away for years and now get to breathe a new life.”

Part of Summerly’s inspiration came from a 2008 exhibit that featured several notable UTMB women and was on display on the first floor of the Moody Library when Hurricane Ike hit. The exhibit was destroyed, but Summerly did not want the their incredible stories to be lost, too.  

Summerly calls herself a “medical history detective,” and enjoys digging into the past. Her research uncovered more information on Anna Mary Bowie, who is highlighted in the current exhibit. Bowie received her medical degree from UTMB in 1920 and served as an instructor in pathology during an outbreak of bubonic plague in Galveston.

“While completing an autopsy, Dr. Bowie accidentally pricked her finger while sewing up the scalp on one of the plague victims,”Dr. Anna Mary Bowie (1890-1989) said Summerly. “She completed her autopsy report and made a set of microscope slides of the case, but over the next few days she was diagnosed with bubonic plague and received a high dose of plague anti-serum. She survived and wrote a paper two years later entitled 'Post-mortem Findings in Twelve Cases of Plague.' The exhibit includes a photo-micrograph of the exact set of microscope slides from Dr. Bowie’s case."

Several UTMB students helped with the exhibit, including Megan Antonetti-Elford, who is a second-year medical student. She wrote a reflection that compared her class of 2017 to the class of 1897, when Marie Delalondre Dietzel was the first woman to graduate from UTMB’s medical school.

“When I graduate, it will have been 120 years since Marie Delalondre Dietzel earned her medical degree,” said Antonetti-Elford. “In 1897, her class was 34 students and she was the only female. In my class, there are 218 students and I am one of 92 women. In becoming the vice president of the first Alumni Association, she must have sensed more pioneers like her would follow.” 

The exhibit will be on display through the end of March.