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The early women veterinarians were pioneers who paved the way for other women who studied veterinary medicine in later years.


The first women to receive Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees in the United States were Mignon Nicholson (1876-1906) from McKillip Veterinary College in 1903, followed by two more women one month apart in 1910, Elinor McGrath (1878-1963) from Chicago Veterinary College and Florence Kimball (1885-1947) from Cornell University. 


In Europe, Marie Kapsevitch [Kapczewitsch] (b. 1855) from Loknistoe, Chernigov, Ukraine graduated from the Ecole Nationale Veterinaire d’Alfort in France in 1897 and Aleen Cust, MRCVS (1868-1937) completed degree requirements in 1900 at the New Veterinary College at Edinburgh, Scotland. In Australia, Isabelle Bruce Reid (1883-1945) finished 4-years of study at the Melbourne Veterinary College in 1902.


According to Drum and Whitely, by 1936 there were only 30 female veterinarians in the United States. By 1963, their number would increase to 277. and by 1987 women made up 17 percent of the veterinary profession.

Nicholson-Mignon from Chicago Tribune 1902.jpg

Association for Women Veterinarians (AWV) Records, 1945-1998. 

18 linear ft. of shelf space (17 containers)

This collection includes correspondence, financial records, meeting minutes, and research materials; research materials include articles on and by women veterinarians, and the bulletin series, containing developments in the field of veterinary medicine. The oldest information is in the scrapbooks. VHS tapes and floppy diskettes contain interviews and images of veterinary doctors.

Repository: Washington State University Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), Terrell Library Suite 12, Pullman, WA 99164-5610 Tel: 509-335-6691

 Archives West,

Association for Women Veterinarians (AWV) Records, 1954-2013.

11.5 Linear feet of shelf space (17 Containers)

This collection contains the records of the Association for Women Veterinarians until the dissolution of the organization in 2013. The bulk of the collection consists of records for the association's annual meetings and for the awards to women veterinarians and veterinary students. These records consist of meeting minutes, correspondence, agendas, reports, publicity, recordings of events, and award applications (most applications are restricted until 2063).

Repository: Washington State University Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), Terrell Library Suite 12, Pullman, WA 99164-5610 Tel: 509-335-6691

Archives West,


Calhoun ML, Houpt KA. Women in veterinary medicine. I. History of women in veterinary medicine. Cornell Vet. 66(4):455-475, 1976 Oct.

Dally M. Differences that matter: The first two female veterinarians in the U.S. Vet Herit. 2017 Nov;40(2):62-65.


Erickson HH. Pioneer women in veterinary medicine: their history and where they studied. Vet Herit. 2012 May;35(1):9-21.


Ford CM. Aleen Cust: First woman veterinary surgeon in Britain, early career. Vet Hist. 1984/85;4(3):131-137.


Houpt KA, Calhoun ML. Women in veterinary medicine. II. The current status and promising future. Cornell Vet. 1977 Jan;67(1):1-23


Nolan RS. Britain’s first woman veterinarian: Aleen Cust defied convention, made veterinary medicine her life’s ambition. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Jun1;238(11):1387-1388.

Whitaker SK. Doors were opening: 19th century women pursuing veterinary medicine. Vet Herit. 2023 Dec;46(2):51-64

Whitaker SK. America’s first African American women veterinarians: Alfreda Johnson Webb and Jane Hinton. Vet Herit. 2022 Dec;45(2):38-53.


Association for Women Veterinarians; Larsen, Phyllis Hickney, ed and comp. Our History of Women in Veterinary Medicine: Gumption, Grace, Grit, and Good Humor. Littleton, CO: Association for Women Veterinarians, 1997. 115 pgs., illus.


Drum, Sue and H. Ellen Whitley. Women in Veterinary Medicine: Profiles of Success. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1991. 270 pgs.

Available online from:

Internet Archive 
Open Library 


Ford, Connie M. Aleen Cust, Veterinary Surgeon: Britain’s First Woman Vet.  Bristol, UK: Biopress Ltd, 1990. 109 pgs.


Gentry, Lesley Ann. Embracing the Equine Profession: The Story of Olive Kendrick Britt, DVM. Beloit, KS: Lesley Ann Gentry; printed by Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 2012. 94 pgs.


Gentry, Lesley Ann. The Lady is a Veterinarian: The Pioneer Women Who Graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State College, 1932-1956. Beloit, KS: Lesley Ann Gentry, 2005  145pgs.


Haw, Penny. The Invincible Miss Cust: A Novel. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2022. 213 pgs.


Jones BV. Aleen Cust (1868-1937). Twentieth-Century Veterinary Lives. London: Granville Penn Press, 2012; pp. 61-64.


Krantz, Colleen Bradford. Breaking barriers in the vet clinic [by Mignon Nicholson]. [video] Iowa PBS Market-to-Market, a weekly journal for rural America, Season 49, Episode 4906, released September 22, 2023.[7:20 min to 14:00 min. mark]   


Larsen, Phyllis Hickney and Bobby Mitchell. The Association for Women Veterinarians: 50 years of grit, grace, gumption, & good humor. [s.l.]: Mitchell Video Productions, 1997. 1 videocassette (12 min); color with black and white sequences.

“Celebrates the founding and history of the Association for Women Veterinarians in 1947. Includes information on various places women veterinarians work such as private practices, military, professional schools, and industry.

Available at: Kansas State University Archives and Special Collections. 

Penn Vet's Women Pioneers

Pioneering the Profession: The Rise of Women in Veterinary Medicine

"Throughout Penn Vet’s history, extraordinary people, who have accomplished exemplary feats, have defined the legacy of the School. In this series of five short features, Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks V’79 GR’80, sits down with Drs. Elaine Hammel, V’60, and Jill Beech, V’72, to reflect on the untold stories of their challenges and breakthroughs as some of the first women to pursue careers in veterinary medicine, not only within Penn Vet, but within the profession."

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