Now You Know: Dr. Augusta Rosenthal-Thompson

Dr. Augusta Rosenthal-Thompson was the first female physician in Traverse City in the late 1800â??s.

She had her own practice at the age of 25, and worked in Traverse City for 25 years.

She was here for 25 years, owned her own practice and her own house without being driven out of the town,â?? said Maddie Buteyn, Exhibit and Events Coordinator at the History Center of Traverse City.

But it was not a gender barrier that motivated her to become a doctor in the first place.

â??She wanted to learn as much as she could so she could help, and her specialty was children's diseases,â?? Buteyn said.

Dr. Rosenthal-Thompson was one of 11 children born to German immigrants.

Four of her siblings lost their lives to cholera. When she was 17 she lost her Mom to cancer.

â??She always grew up with this drive to try to heal children,â?? Buteyn said. â?? Her father was also a big push also in her becoming a doctor because he saw all of the deaths in their family, losing four children himself.â??

Dr. Rosenthal-Thompson went to school to be a doctor and also traveled to Europe to learn their medical practices.

â??When she came back from Europe, she brought back with her implements to do blood transfusions,â?? Buteyn said. â??She was the first doctor in the area to do a blood transfusion.â??

While in Traverse City she married Doctor Isaac Thompson in 1887.

They had one son together but he died of diphtheria when he was 7 years old.

After her sons death she deserted her husband and went to Europe to learn more of their medical practices.

â??She wanted them to get better, which is why she thought doctors should always practice at getting better to learn more and be open minded,â?? Buteyn said.

But Dr. Rosenthal-Thompson faced adversity from a medical professor while in Europe. He refused to teach her because she was a woman. But a male colleague assured the professor of her skills.

â??She was just there to remind that itâ??s not about you, itâ??s about the patient, thatâ??s why you became a doctor,â?? buteyn said.

When she came back she moved to Grand Rapids and healed a young boy who had diphtheria.

â??She was a good role model because she was an easy person to go up to,â?? Buteyn said. â??She didnâ??t hold it above you that she was more educated, or that she was the first woman or first doctor to do a blood transfusion, or that she was more educated than a lot of the doctors in the area.â??

Buteyn said Dr. Augusta Rosenthal-Thompson helped people in the area see women in a different light.

â??I think it planted a seed that would just grow no matter what,â?? Buteyn said.

To find out more about the exhibit, "Legends of the Grand Traverse Region: Community out of Diversity," you can visit their website



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