Whether it's a conversation with a friend, a word that is penned, or a craft that is made, everything we do leaves a stitch in the fabric of time. Join us as we investigate the stitches of the past and present...
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ... a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).
“Women have reached a situation where they should be
judged by accomplishments and skill. Military medical care often stands
perilously close to the crisis stage.”
So said Dr. Margaret D. Craighill, the first female
physician to be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. On April 16, 1943
President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Sparkman-Johnson Bill which
allowed women to enter the Army and Navy Medical Corps, and one month later Dr.
Craighill became Major Craighill.
Born in Southport, North Carolina in 1898, Margaret
was one of six girls. An intelligent woman, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from
the University of Wisconsin and went on to Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine where she earned her Doctorate in 1924. She taught Pathology at Yale
University and served as Assistant Resident of Gynecology for Hopkins. She then
moved to New York City where she worked as an assistant surgeon at Bellevue
Hospital and Greenwich Hospital until 1937. By 1940 she was Dean of the Women’s
Medical College of Pennsylvania and working for Philadelphia General Hospital.
Then came WWII.
Upon passage of the Sparkman-Johnson Bill, Dr.
Craighill put in for a leave of absence in order to serve in the military and
after her commission was assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General where
she was responsible for setting medical standards for (women’s) enlistment,
providing suitable care after enlistment, and recommending preventive measures
for women’s health.
In current times, we take female doctors and the
separate discipline of women’s health for granted. But it wasn’t until 1944 that
Dr. Craighill was able to convince the powers-that-be there were “problems of
health peculiar to women.” Up until that time, women enlistees were subjected
to the same prescribed exam that men received. As a result, most women who
should have been rejected because of fibroids, tumors, and even advanced
pregnancy, were inducted.
Lt. Colonel Craighill and
Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby
By Dr. Craighill’s creation of standards that were
specific to women, and educating the medical examiners at the induction
stations, the rejection rate rose and the disability discharge rate plummeted. She
personally conducted an inspection tour that lasted over eight months and
spanned the globe. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, she was awarded the Legion
After the war, she was honorable discharged, and she
returned to private practice before accepting the position of Chief Consultant,
Medical Care for Women, with the Veteran’s Administration-another first.
Widowed twice, Dr. Craighill passed away in July, 1977.
A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett is the author of three romance novellas, including Love's Harvest, a modern retelling of the book of Ruth. Under Fire, the first in her trilogy about WWII War Correspondent/amateur sleuth Ruth Brown will be released by eLectio Publishing in July 2017. Visit Linda at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com.