Woman of the Century/Mary J. Scarlett Dixon
DIXON, Mrs. Mary J. Scarlett, physician, born in Robeson township, Berks county. Pa., 23rd October. 1822. Her parents were members of the Society of Friends, and Mary was the youngest of MARY J. SCARLET DIXON. seven children. Her father was a farmer. He died when she was about four years old, and a brother's death soon after left the mother with six children, on a farm not very productive, and with plenty of hard work, in which all the children did their full share. When the agitation against slavery loomed up in 1830, the family was the only one in the neighborhood that took an active part, and their house became the resort for anti-slavery lectures. When Mary was sixteen years old, her mother died. As soon as the estate was settled, she began to teach in country schools. After teaching a few years, she went to boarding-school for a year, and again taught for a time, and went again to boarding-school one term. Her thoughts were led towards medicine in early childhood. With the aim of becoming a physician, her teaching was to provide means. When in 1850 the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, later changed to the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, opened its doors to students, she received information from one of its professors that she was wanted. Duties to her oldest sister prevented her from entering until the autumn of 1855. She was graduated in 1857. Feeling that the time for study was too short, she took another course of lectures, better to fit her for general practice. During that course of lectures she took special pains to obtain practice among the poor, in order to build up the clinic at the college, not only for her own benefit, hut for the general good of the college. During a part of 185S-59 she gave lectures on hygiene in country towns and villages. In the autumn of 1859 she was appointed demonstrator of anatomy in the Woman's Medical College and returned to Philadelphia to take the position. The hospitals in the city were not open to women physicians for instruction, and the college management felt it necessary to make some change for the better clinical instruction of the students. Larger buildings were purchased for a woman's hospital, in which rooms could be utilized temporarily for college purposes. In the hospital Emeline H. Cleveland, M.D., was appointed resident physician and Dr. Scarlett assistant physician. There they built up a good clinic and out-door practice, which, in addition to the hospital, afforded the students good opportunities for practical instruction. In 1862 she received the appointment of professor of anatomy in the college. After a few years, feeling she had undertaken too much, she resigned the position of demonstrator of anatomy. In 1865 she resigned the position of assistant physician in the hospital, to make a home for herself. In 1868 she returned to the hospital as resident physician, remaining there until 1871, when she returned to her home, at the same time being appointed visiting physician to the hospital. Un 8th May. 1873, she became the wife of G. Washington Dixon, still retaining her professorship and engaged in active practice, along with her duties as professor of anatomy. In 1881 her connection with the college was discontinued. As glaucoma was troubling her, she placed herself under the care of a skilled ophthalmologist for the treatment of her eyes. She continued actively engaged until through diminished vision she was forced to hand over many patients to others. She still continues to treat some cases. She resides in Philadelphia.