Emilia Jones Barker, M.D., affectionately nicknamed the “Little Doctor” by the students she served, was appointed Wellesley’s resident physician in 1875 by founder Henry Durant himself, and with only brief interruptions, served the College until her retirement in 1909. A 1937 essay about Barker published in this magazine reported that Durant said, “The watchful care of the students’ health is known throughout the country,” and “the vigorous health of the great majority of students at Wellesley College … is satisfactory proof that healthy girls under proper regulations are usually capable of continued hard study without injury.” It was Barker’s job to keep them that way.
Barker stood vigil at Henry Durant’s bedside during his final illness, and was there with Pauline Durant when Mr. Durant died on Oct. 3, 1881. After his death, Mrs. Durant gave Barker the gift of this microscope, made in Philadelphia by J. Zentmayer. It must have served her well in her decades as the College’s resident physician.
In May 1915, Barker gave the microscope to Julia Hewitt, class of 1903, who had worked as a zoology assistant at the College and in 1914 won first place in a competitive examination in New York City to become a bacteriology lab assistant. In a typed letter that accompanied the gift, Barker wrote, “I want you the have the use of your microscope before you get too old to use it. … I realize what it would have meant to me to have as good a microscope at your age. I would have been much better fitted for my life work.” Hewitt, in turn, gave the instrument to Elizabeth Broyles, M.D., College physician from 1931 to 1960. It now resides in the Science Library’s collection.
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