Harriet Kesia Hunt (1805-1875) was a self-supporting spinster school teacher when she first became interested in medicine. Her younger sister suffered a debilitating aliment that was exacerbated by the treatment she received from the physicians.
Hunt studied homeopathic medicine under Elizabeth and Richard Mott who identified her sister’s illness as tuberculosis and cured her. In 1830 she began practicing in Boston as a physician specializing in the ailments of women and children. In 1843 Hunt was the first woman to apply to Harvard Medical School, but her application was denied. In 1850 Harvard Medical gave her permission to attend lectures. However, the all-male student body refused to attend classes unless she and the three black students admitted withdrew. In 1853 the new Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded by Lucretia Mott, awarded her an honorary degree. Hunt believed strongly in abolition and the rights of women and was an organizer of the First Women’s Rights Convention in 1850.
Critics, satirists! Here is work for you; there are plenty of defects, plenty of rough granite for your hard natures to hammer upon; an overflow of enthusiasm for you to brand as mere impulse; a coincidence in intuition which will startle your causality, and an undoubting faith in even a grain of “mustard seed.” Farewell on the door steps; let us enter the building, and in examining of its apartments and the uses of each, we shall soon feel at home.
The picture gallery is ready; the sun is at mid-day, (fifty years,) and you are all entitled to your opinions on the pictures. Be kind in your severity, charitable in your criticisms, and find the “stand-point” of the writer before you adjust your glass.
This excerpt is taken from the preface of her 1855 book Glances and Glimpses: Or Fifty Years Social including Twenty Years of Professional Life based on the diary she kept since childhood.
Harriet Kesia Hunt Homeopath
2 Replies to “Harriet Kesia Hunt on Critics”
I love finding out about even more woman who were feisty and alive over 200 years ago. This little lady made some major differences and imagine, homeopathic remedies being accepted! We women need to pay attention and get these older ladies noticed. It is like the archeology that hasn’t yet found a place for all the evidence that there was far more reverence for the female than the male deity/figure we are led to believe. The Venus of Willendorf figurine comes from our past and we need to connect the dots that led us to where we are now and regain the visibility along the path!!!
As I uncovered the words of these women I become more and more aware of how women’s voices have been silenced over time.