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Florence R. Sabin was born in Central City, Colorado. After graduating from Smith College with a B.S. in 1893 and teaching for several years, she entered the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1896. She received her M.D. in 1900 and became one of the first two female interns at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Sabin received a postgraduate fellowship in anatomy under Franklin P. Mall and in 1902 became an assistant in anatomy, the first faculty position at the school of medicine to be held by a woman. In 1917, Sabin became the first woman at Johns Hopkins to be appointed to a full professorship.

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She remained at Johns Hopkins until 1925, when she accepted an invitation to become the first full-time female faculty member at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York. She established the department of cellular studies there and remained at the Rockefeller Institute until her retirement in 1938. Sabin returned to Colorado after her retirement, where she became a crusader for public health. She helped establish the politically independent State Department of Health in Colorado and served as health commissioner for the city of Denver.

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Scope and Content

The Florence R. Sabin Collection spans her entire medical career. It primarily consists of correspondence (1903-1941) between Sabin and Mabel (Glover) Mall, the wife of Franklin P. Mall, M.D., the first professor of anatomy at Johns Hopkins. Mabel S. Glover was one of three women in the first entering class at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Before the end of her first year of medical school, she dropped out to marry Franklin Mall. Sabin attributed much of her early success in medicine to the mentoring provided by Franklin Mall. This correspondence reveals the close friendship Sabin enjoyed with the Mall family and provides a glimpse of the early years at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the work of the Anatomical Laboratory. Some of the later correspondence discusses the biography of Franklin P. Mall that Sabin was preparing. The collection also includes several letters to Mrs. Mall from Simon Flexner (1919-1940) and a few other correspondents.

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Profiles in Science exhibit on Florence Sabin at National Library of Medicine

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