Q. Who was the first woman to attend the University? And to graduate?



The following facts were compilled by Dan Flanagan, University Archivist.

Q: Who was the first woman to attend PCP?

A: That would be Dr. Clara Marshall (1847-1931). She attended PCP for only one year during the 1875-76 session. A year earlier she obtained her medical degree from the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia (class of 1875). It was pretty common for medical students to supplement their education by taking a single course of lectures at PCP. (In those days you needed to attend two courses, i.e. two years, to qualify for a diploma.) That being said, a fair number of doctors also pursued pharmacy degrees. However, they usually completed the pharmacy degree first, before attending medical school.

Here’s more info about Clara Marshall, who later served as Dean of the Women’s Medical College:



Here’s an interesting little item that appeared in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Dec. 8 1928:

“RECALLS ‘HOODLUM’ STUDENTS: First Woman Student of Pharmacy at School Early to Avoid Clash:

Dr. Clara Marshall, Dean Emeritus of the Woman’s Medical College and first woman student of pharmacy in America, spoke before a small group of women students at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, 43rd st. and Woodland av., yesterday.

She described classes at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy as they were held in 1875 and 1876, at 10th and Cherry sts., where in order to avoid any clash with the men students, she was seated in the lecture room before the appointed hour. ‘The college students of that day were hoodlums,” Dr. Marshall declared. “The professor used threats to preserve order in the class room.’

Dr. Marshall directed the exhibit of pharmacy at the Centennial Exposition. She studied under Israel J. Grahame, foremost Philadelphia pharmacist of that time.”


Q. Who is the first woman graduate of PCP?

A. That would be Dr. Susan Hayhurst (1820-1909) who graduated from PCP in 1883. Dr. Hayhurst was also a graduate of the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia (class of 1857). Susan Hayhurst was 63 when she graduated PCP, in contrast to Clara Marshall who was about 29 when she attended. The age difference might have worked in Dr. Hayhurst’s favor. What self-respecting hoodlum pharmacy student would pick on an old lady?                               

“No difficulty surrounded her attendance of these lectures. The boys were probably not glad to receive this one woman who entered a class heretofore occupied entirely by men, and who might mar their college freedom but they made no offensive demonstration…she was graduated in 1883. Professor Remington in his valedictory address said: ‘It is the best and largest class we have ever graduated, and we do what has never been done in the history of these sixty-two commencements, confer a degree on a woman.’ Then arose such a storm of applause as would have satisfied the most ambitious debutante.”American Journal of Pharmacy, January 1911, p. 37

Dr. Hayhurst managed the pharmacy at the Women’s Hospital of Philadelphia for 33 years starting in 1876.

  • Last Updated Dec 11, 2018
  • Views 193
  • Answered By Chris Wieman

FAQ Actions

Was this helpful? 0   0