Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen
Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen
Bertha as girl
Bertha as girl
Bertha as young woman
Bertha as young woman
Bertha
Bertha
Bertha with her first car
Bertha with her first car
Petticoat Surgeon
Petticoat Surgeon
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Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen (March 26, 1863-June 7, 1952)

Bertha Van Hoosen was raised in the small rural village of Stony Creek, in present day Rochester Hills. Her parents were progressive for their day and felt that their daughters should have a higher education. Bertha went to high school in Pontiac and then on to the University of Michigan for her Bachelor's degree. In 1884, Bertha announced her desire to become a surgeon. Her parents did not approve of such a career choice and would not fund her schooling. Determined, Bertha performed a variety of jobs in the surrounding areas to earn money for her schooling. In 1888, Bertha Van Hoosen graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in medicine. At a time when women doctors were rare, Bertha served her community as an obstetrician, gynecologist, and surgeon. Her illustrious career spanned more than 50 years and included such accomplishments as: developing the "buttonhole" appendectomy surgical technique, developing the use of scopolamine morphine as an anesthetic, and working to convince the medical community of the value of hygiene and sterilization of instruments to prevent infection. She also spent many hours in the classroom and at teaching hospitals to train the next generation of doctors.

Although never one to succumb to peer pressure, Bertha was ridiculed in her early days of medical school. One of the many nicknames that she was called was "Petticoat Surgeon." Years later, she used that nickname as the title for her autobiography. She frequently sought ways to provide women in the medical field with a support network. To provide this network, she founded the American Women's Medical Association and served as its first president.

Dr. Van Hoosen received many honors and awards including; honorary membership in the International Association of Medical Women, induction into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, added to the Who's Who in America, and an honoree of the Rochester Area Hall of Fame. In addition, the 1840 farmhouse and 16 acres of the grounds that she explored as a child are now the home of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.



This online exhibit is only a small portion of our collection. For more information about the collection, the history of the greater Rochester area, and upcoming events check out www.rochesterhills.org or call us at 248-656-4663 or email us at  rhmuseum@rochesterhills.org