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On Dr. Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer: A letter from RJ Glaser to Marion Hunt, February 12, 1991

VC410 Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer, [WUSM student photo, ca. 1923]Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust
Miami, Florida
Executive Office: Suite405, 3250 Mary Street, Miami. Florida 33133 (305)445-5612

 

525 Middlefield Road, Suite 130 
Menlo Park. California 94025
(415)323-6700
Robert J. Glaser. M.D. Trustee And Director For Medical Science

Dear Mrs. Hunt:

Thank you very much for your letter of February 6. I appreciated your responding to my earlier one to Bill Peck regarding my late mother-in-law, Dr. Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer. Although I now understand your reason for not having listed Dr. Hofsommer in the brief entry on women in medicine in the centennial calendar, I still think that the omission was unfortunate. We of course were aware that she had not received her degree until 1923. You might be interested in the reason that was the case.

 

When Aphrodite Jannopoulo applied to medical school in 1918, she was interviewed by the then dean, Dr. G. Canby Robinson, a distinguished figure in American medical VC106007, Staff, Internal Medicine, 1919-1920 with G. Canby Robinson.education of that period, who told her he thought she could be admitted if she took a course in physics, which she had not had while in college. He told her, however, that she would not receive her degree with her class (1922) because she would not have completed physics at the time she started her medical studies, and therefore would have to wait another year for her degree. Further, she was advised that she herself would have to arrange with the Department of Physics on the Hill for admission to a physics course. As indicated in her diary, it was not easy; in today's parlance she got the "run around", but ultimately Professor Langsdorf, who was a prominent member of the faculty and a leading physicist, provided her with the opportunity to enroll.

 

Aphrodite took the physics course, during her first year of medical school, and completed it successfully, but sadly enough her degree was nonetheless withheld for one year as Robinson had told her it would be.  Further, the delay of a full year in receiving her degree prevented her from getting an internship.

 

VC017003 Armin C. Hofsommer and Aphrodite Maria Jannopoulo, 1922, Commencement We have pictures of Helen's parents marching in the commencement procession in 1922; her mother went through all the exercises but simply was not given her diploma until a year later. She was told that her diploma was held "in a drawer". It has always been the feeling of the family that resistance to women entering medicine led to the various roadblocks Helen's mother encountered.

 

I do want to take note that in her-diary, Aphrodite makes particular reference to Dr. W. McKim Marriott, a distinguished professor of pediatrics (and later dean for a brief period), with whom she worked prior-to entering medical school. She described him as one of the finest persons he had ever met.

 

We appreciated your sending the photograph of Helen's mother from the yearbook, and we were interested to learn that Dr. Cole did VC410 Caroline Skinner Cole, MD WUSM 1922, about 1922.indeed graduate. As I think I mentioned in my earlier letter, Helen's father thought that she had been in a bad accident toward the end of her first year and didn't finish medical school; it is good to know that that was not the case.

 

William Dock, 1942We also were interested to find that you knew and had been in touch with Bill Dock. Both Helen's mother and father enjoyed a warm friendship with him. In the late 1960s, during the period I was dean at the Stanford Medical School, Bill came back to Palo Alto on a visit, and he and Helen's parents, who had moved to California by that time, had a pleasant reunion at our house. Helen's mother enjoyed-regaling us with stories about how Bill Dock always acted bored in class and went to some length to look as if he were paying no attention to what was going on. When his annoyed professor would call on him, however, Bill always had exactly the right answer!

 

I am sorry to say that within a few days after we received the centennial calendar, Helen's father had a massive stroke, and is now in a terminal coma. He was ninety-three years old last July, and he and his wife had a wonderful life together. She unfortunately died of cancer in 1976, but Helen's father remained active, intellectually andVC017007, Armin C. Hofsommer and Aphrodite Jannopoulo Hofsommer, [1974] physically, until just a short while ago. I have to confess that we did not show him the centennial calendar because we knew he would have been disappointed that Aphrodite was not mentioned; he had maintained his interest in the medical school and contributed, along with us, to the book fund that we have set up in the medical school library.

 

You indicated you were considering doing an article for Outlook Magazine about Helen's mother but you should not feel obligated to do so. In any case, we will make some photocopies of Dr. Hofsommer's diary and send them on. I am very familiar with your husband's service and contributions to the medical school, and I was interested to know that your son is a first-year student. Perhaps on one of my visits we will have a chance to say hello to one another.

 

I am a very strong believer in tradition, and therefore am particularly pleased that as part of the centennial attention is being paid to the archives. The Washington University School of Medicine has had a marvelous record, one that is not as widely appreciated as it should be, and I hope the centennial will result in more people recognizing the special place of honor to which the institution is entitled.

With all kind regards, I remain

Very sincerely yours,

 

 

VC017002 Helen H. Glaser and Robert J. Glaser, [1974]Robert J. Glaser, .M.D.

 

Enclosure

cc: Dr. William A. Peck

Dr. M. Kenton King

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