In her own words: Caroline Whitney

January 27th, 1927.


Dr. Evarts A. Graham,
Department of Surgery,
Washington University School of Medicine,
Euclid & Kingshighway,
St. Louis, Missouri.


Dear Sir: –

Before I left St. Louis last Spring, I spoke to you about certain aspirations of mine towards a Fellowship with the National Research Council. You may not remember the conversation, but I am taking advantage of your offer to help me if I should need advice.

I am still very much interested in the project; even more than I was last Spring, for in the interval I have had an opportunity to try my hand at research work and I find that I like it very much. This Summer I was with the United States Children’s Bureau doing Public Health work and helping out a little in the study of Rickets which they are carrying on at New Haven. I did not like the Public Health side of it, so when an opportunity presented itself of doing some Pediatrics and some research on Tuberculosis at Phipps Institute in November, I became a Research Fellow here and I have enjoyed my work since very much indeed.  My Fellowship here is finished in July unless I put in an application for another year’s work.

I became very much interested in the question of bone growth when I was with the Children’s Bureau at New Haven. It was just an accenuation of an interest I had developed when I was at Washington University doing work in the Department of Anatomy in my spare time in the past three years. I have not lost interest in the subject while here at Phipps for the whole problem of calcification and healing Tuberculosis – the relation of chest diseases to rickets in children , etc ., is somewhat related to the question of calcification of bone and to the effects of certain processes causing disordered bone growth on the general health of children.

I want to apply for a National Research Fellowship in the next few weeks, and I wondered if you could advise me as to whether I should put in for a Fellowship in Biological Sciences or in Medical Sciences. I had rather thought the latter would be better, since I am interested in going on in clinical research afterwards. I think the work that I have done in Anatomy while at Washington and in Pathology here at Phipps would answer the requirements concerning experience in pre- clinical subjects. I shall express a preference for work in (1) Germany, or, (a) England, although I am aware that such grants are very special favors. In the United States I should like to work at Hopkins because of the tremendous amount of work they have done there on rickets. I am expressing a preference for work abroad because everyone who has done work abroad in their early years, seems to have derived great benefit from it.

If I put in my application, may I give your name as reference to the quality of my work while at Washington University?

I hope I am not being too forward in asking for such advice.

Very sincerely yours,


Caroline Whitney.

Background and context for the letters

Mildred Trotter, Caroline Whitney working on our stiff, VC170064Caroline Whitney, the writer of this letter, was one of the early group of women who graduated in the early 1920s from the Washington University Medical school. Evarts Graham was recruited as the new full time head of the Department of Surgery in 1919.  So he was relatively new to the medical school when she arrived in 1921 from University of Colorado at Boulder, where she completed her first year of medical school classes and graduated with her A.B.

Her first class with Evarts Graham was his surgical clinic, a part of a six part course called Surgery 2, which she took during her junior Caroline Whitney, VC416WUSM1924-Y1, about 1921.year. Like the rest of her class, she also took Surgery 1, 3 and 4, but it Graham taught only Surgery 2 and 4. The class of 1924 began practical surgical training as dressers in the surgical outpatient clinic where Caroline Whitney and her classmates took histories and applied dressings and bandages. During the third and fourth year, they attended Dr. Graham’s surgical clinic where fourth year students examined patients and presented the cases for discussion for the benefit of the third year students. For one trimester in her third year, she served as assistant in the surgical wards for five days a week from 9-12 daily. Professor Graham and the surgical resident discussed general surgical cases in rounds the first hour. Under direction of the house staff, students took case histories, made physical examinations, and usual laboratory examinations; they also assisted at some of the operations and with anesthetic and did surgical dressings.  After she graduated with her M.D. in 1924, Dr. Caroline Whitney completed internships first at Barnes Hospital in the obstetrical service in 1924-1925 and then at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital in 1925-1926. Graham was Surgeon in Chief of Barnes and Children’s Hospital those years. So she knew Dr. Graham by the time she wrote him for advice and recommendations in 1927. 

The letter fills in some information on what she did during the years 1926 and 1927.  In 1926-1927, she did work in pathology at The Henry Phipps Institute for The Study, Treatment and Prevention of Tuberculosis, in Philadelphia. In January 1928, she became an instructor in the department of anatomy at Washington University and was slated to be instructor in Cytology beginning July 1, 1928.  However, she died on July 13, 1928 from tuberculosis.


  1. Caroline Elizabeth Whitney (1899-1928), Missouri Women in the Health Sciences – Biographies – Other Early Washington University School of Medicine Alumnae,
  2. Caroline Whitney correspondence with Evarts Graham, 1927, Box 97, Folder 713 Evarts A. Graham Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
  3. Caroline Whitney examining a skull, [ca. 1928], VC170074, Mildred Trotter Photographs, Certificates, and Artifacts (VC170), Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
  4. Caroline Whitney photo, VC 416 WUSM 1924-y1 from Composite photo,class of 1924, Washington University School of Medicine Class Composites Photographs, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
  5. Mildred Trotter, Caroline Whitney. This is Caroline Whitney (the girl who is going to visit her brother in Pgh) on Christmas and working on our stiff. How do you like it?), 170064, Mildred Trotter Photographs, Certificates, and Artifacts (VC170), Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
  6. Washington University School of Medicine Bulletin, Catalogue of the School of Medicine, Series II, 1922-1928, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.