Amanda Sanford

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Amanda Sanford became the first women to graduate from the University of Michigan with a medical degree in 1871. It was a remarkable accomplishment, yet when she walked forward to receive her diploma with honors, she was heckled by men in the balcony.1

Sanford was a very accomplished student who had been working in hospitals in the Boston area before moving to Ann Arbor to further her education. Her doctoral thesis, "Eclampsia Puerperalis," was written after studying more than 800 cases of childbearing women in New England hospitals. She knew more about the affliction, which causes convulsions in pregnant women, than probably any other scholar at the time.2

After graduation, she became an extremely successful obstetrician and gynecologist in her own private practice as well as in hospitals in the United States and Europe. Today the U-M Medical School's Sanford House is named in her honor.3 

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Dr. Amanda Sanford Hickey with Dr. Eliza Mosher and family


1. Dorothy McGuigan, Dangerous Experiment: 100 Years of Women at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor: Center for Continuing Education of Women, 1970), 38.

2. Ibid, 37.

3. “Sanford House,” University of Michigan Medical School, accessed June 23, 2016,