DOROTHY MARY LANG
graduated from Peoples Academy High School in Morrisville in 1916, then packed her bags and headed to New York. She wanted to be an actress in the nascent film industry, and with her cherubic beauty and intrinsic cleverness
she found some success. But after discovering that an old friend had been killed in World War I, her goals changed. “Ever since I found Howard’s name in the casualty list, I have been thinking what a slacker I was,” wrote Lang in
her journal. “That I should be a moving picture actress while my dearest friends were giving their lives to make the world safe for democracy, suddenly seemed a cowardly occupation.”
Lang began working for the War Trade Board
in New York City. She returned to Vermont, and by 1920 she had been admitted to the College of Medicine, and in 1924 she graduated, a small, smiling face in the class photo, peeking out from an enormous bouquet of flowers and a crowd of thirty-two
tall, stern-looking men. Lang returned to New York after medical school, this time as a doctor. She worked at various hospitals in the city, Long Island, and Westchester, New York, where she met her husband Craig Bulger, who was also a doctor. The
couple later moved to White Plains, where she, as a successful allergist and pediatrician, and her husband had a joint office. They and their children Craig and John lived above. “She absolutely loved medicine,” says her son John
Bulger. “It was her life.” She died in 1955, of cancer, at age 56.
* * *NAOMI DELIA LANOU
was born in 1898 in Burlington. After graduating from the UVM College of Medicine in 1925, Lanou became the first woman intern at Mary Fletcher Hospital. For the next ten years she worked as a pediatrician
at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, on staff at the Rutland Hospital, and in private practice in Rutland. In 1936, however, she was forced to close the practice. Her health had taken a turn for the worse, and she returned home to recuperate
with her family.
After spending the next few years in Burlington, “she did an amazing thing,” says Janet Lanou, her niece. “At the age of 41 she entered a religious order, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary.”
The group was an international Catholic order founded in France, and Lanou worked for the next decade with deaf children in New York City and Chicago. Then, at the age of 52, she embarked on a mission to Ethiopia. In September of 1952 she
arrived in Addis Ababa and opened a clinic for children. The six-foot tall Lanou, called “the Doctoress” by her patients, was the first woman doctor in the country.
In 1956 she traveled to the burgeoning city of Sao Paolo,
Brazil, to open another clinic. In 1957, she journeyed to Rapid City, South Dakota, for the same reason; this time she ministered to members of the Sioux Nation. Lanou finally returned to New York City permanently in 1960, where she supervised the
care of the elderly sisters and worked in the order’s school for deaf children. She died in 1973.
* * *BERTHA ALICE CHASE
’s family was poor, and she left school fairly early to help her mother at home. She later returned and finished high school. Stirred to action by World War I, Chase decided her contribution would
be in the field of medicine. A grant that helped fund her UVM education had one key condition: after internship, she must devote her newfound skills to missionary work. Since she was inclined in that direction anyway, she gladly accepted the grant
and graduated in 1926. Chase journeyed to India in 1927 and didn’t return for good until 1939. Clara Swain Hospital, the first women’s hospital in India, became her home. “Last month we did about fifteen tonsillectomies, six
or seven other minor operations, and two major abdominal operations,” Chase wrote in a letter to the Vermont Alumni Weekly in 1929.
In India, Chase met a Salvation Army officer, Wilkie Wiseman. She and Wiseman married early the next
year. Chase finally returned to the States in 1939, and she eventually took a placement as a county health officer in rural Kentucky. She later opened an ophthalmology practice near Lansing, Michigan. She died at age 98.
* * *ESTELLE JULIA FOOTE
was the last of eight children of a successful Middlebury businessman, Abram Foote, who later became lieutenant governor of the state. Estelle first pondered medicine as a young girl living in her family’s
“When I applied for entrance to the Medical School of the University of Vermont,” Foote later recalled in a 1980 memoir, “I found two obstacles: Middlebury College had not prepared me for entrance
to a class A medical school, and the UVM medical college was not open to women. So I attended UVM for a year, taking physics and organic chemistry, and my father, exerting some political pressure, persuaded the medical college to admit women. I entered
medical college in the fall of 1921.”
In 1926 she graduated with Bertha Chase. After an internship at Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, Foote returned to Vermont and practiced medicine in Vergennes and Middlebury until
her parents died in 1941. She then returned to Massachusetts and spent the next 22 years working for the state as a physician and psychiatrist. She retired and returned to Vermont in 1963 and died in 1997.