Highlighting the Trails of Women Pioneers in Otolaryngology

October 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 9

Visit the Virtual History of Women in Otolaryngology Museum Display and Exhibit

Do you know the name of the first woman involved in otolaryngology in 1898? How about who is credited with developing the bronchoscope in 1905? The answers are part of a new collection of artifacts and a historic timeline showcasing the significant impact women have made in the specialty. The “History of Women in Otolaryngology” exhibit is available to members around the world. It will reside in the John Q. Adams Center for the history of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, which includes an extensive library and archival museum collection documenting the history of otolaryngology. This diverse collection is housed on the fifth floor of the AAO-HNS/F headquarters office in Alexandria, Virginia.

The museum exhibit evolved through conversations with lifetime Academy members. As they told their stories and shared their photographs and artifacts, it became clear that their significant contributions to the specialty needed to be celebrated. These women pioneers began their careers in otolaryngology as far back as the late 1800s, and the exhibit includes memorabilia and personal stories from more recent pathfinders who paved the way for current and future women otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons.

The women profiled share their experiences and emphasize the importance of finding colleagues for support and camaraderie. As one woman’s story led to the names of others they had known, we followed those trails to more and more amazing women. One of the earliest records found is of Letitia L. Frantz, MD, recognized as a surgeon specializing in diseases of women and children, especially ear, nose, and throat surgeries, in the 1885 Census of Women Physicians. Throughout the following decades and into the 21st century, women have continued to expand their contributions to otolaryngology.

Thank you to the many women who shared their stories, contributed pictures and memorabilia, and dedicated their lives to the advancement of the specialty, their colleagues, and their patients.

The current iteration of the timeline, which can be found at https://youtu.be/Vq1u-FbLXEE, is just a small representation of the accomplishments of countless women in otolaryngology. We welcome submissions and will continue to expand the museum display as we honor the women who make a difference. Contact memberservices@entnet.org with questions.