Carrie Burnham Kilgore

Carrie Kilgore
Carrie Kilgore

Time Period

1860-1910

Subject Categories

Education, Equal Rights, Law, Medicine

Notable Facts

Worked to gain women the same rights as men in both of her chosen fields: medicine and the law. First woman to receive a medical degree in the state of New York; first female graduate from the Pennsylvania Law School; first female admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

01/20/1838

Date of Death

06/29/1909

Primary Residence

Craftsbury

Religion

Methodist

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Historical Significance

Carrie Burnham Kilgore worked to gain women the same rights as men in both of her chosen fields: medicine and the law. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the state of New York, the first female graduate from the Pennsylvania Law School and the first female admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

Carrie Burnham Kilgore was born in Craftsbury, Vermont and attended Craftsbury Academy and Newbury Seminary. She was orphaned at age twelve, so she had to finance her own education by teaching and doing domestic work. In 1858, Kilgore moved to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin to live with her sister. For the next five years, she taught in a variety of schools throughout Wisconsin. Kilgore left Wisconsin for New York City, where she enrolled in the Hygeio-Therapeutic College and Dio Lewis' Boston Normal Institute for Physical Institution. She received her medical degree and diploma in 1865, making her the first woman to receive a medical degree in the state of New York. She then took a job as assistant physician at the Lewis' Health Institute.

Kilgore settled in Philadelphia, where she taught at a "French School for Young Ladies' and studied law with Damon Kilgore, who became her husband in 1876. Kilgore had grown interested in the women's rights movement and represented the Citizen's Suffrage Association of Philadelphia in the conventions of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Ten years after her first attempt, Kilgore became the first woman to gain admission to the Pennsylvania Law School (1881) and received the L.L.B. in 1883. To gain admission to the Pennsylvania Bar, she petitioned the state General Assembly three times and was finally successful in 1886. In 1885, she was admitted to the Orphans' Court of Philadelphia, the state Supreme Court and all the lower courts, and, in 1890, she was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Damon Kilgore died in 1888 and Carrie Kilgore took over his practice. She was a member of the Philadelphia Aeronautical Recreation Society, and was the only female passenger in the first hot air balloon ride that the society took. Kilgore died of cancer in 1909 and is buried in Craftsbury, Vermont.

Organizations or Movements

  • Philadelphia Aeronautical Recreation Society
  • Citizen's Suffrage Association
  • National Woman Suffrage Association.

Occupations

  • Teacher
  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Women's Rights Activist.

Education

  • Craftsbury Academy
  • Newbury Seminary
  • University of Pennsylvania (1883)

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Werner, Sharon. "Carrie Burnham Kilgore: A Pioneer in Pennsylvania." Link

  • University of Pennsylvania Archives Link

  • Clifford, Deborah. "Carrie Burnham Kilgore." In The Vermont Encyclopedia. Edited by John Duffy. The University of New England Press, 2003.

Additional Images

Carrie Kilgore. Courtesy the University of Pennsylvania
Carrie Kilgore. Courtesy the University of Pennsylvania