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Home North Carolina Lincoln County City of Lincolnton Historical Markers Connie M. Guion 1882-1971

Connie M. Guion 1882-1971

NC-27 at Spake Road, Lincolnton, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 27' 55.4616", -81° 16' 10.6716"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Pioneer female physician. Gained national reputation from work at Cornell medical clinic, 1922-1970. Born 2/10 mile N."
     At her death in 1971, Dr. Connie M. Guion was the dean of the nation’s women physicians. Several distinctions are claimed for her including first female professor of clinical medicine at an American university, first female member of the medical board of New York Hospital, and first living female doctor for whom a major hospital building was named. Irrespective of these claims, Dr. Guion’s was a pioneering career in medicine.

     Connie M. Guion, who never married, was among twelve children born at River Bend, a plantation on the South Fork River west of Lincolnton. Her father, a railroad superintendent, died when she was twelve and her mother was left to raise the family. Shortly before his death, they had moved to Charlotte. Connie, who early on made known her intention to practice medicine, was educated at Miss Kate Shipp’s School in Lincolnton, Northfield Seminary, Wellesley College (A.B., 1906), and Cornell Medical School (M.D., 1917). She taught chemistry at Vassar College for three years and from 1908 to 1912 chaired the chemistry department at Sweet Briar College, where a science building was later named for her. On completing her medical degree, she interned at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital during the flu epidemic of 1918 when many male colleagues were abroad.

     Dr. Guion gained a national reputation in medicine at a time when few women entered the field. For almost fifty years she was associated with the Cornell medical clinic, where she became a full professor in 1946. That clinic in time became a part of New York Hospital where the outpatient building housing 89 clinics was named in her honor. The University of North Carolina in 1965 presented her with an honorary degree hailing her as the “first woman from North Carolina to achieve distinction in medicine.” Dr. Guion worked 12-hour days until her retirement at age eighty-seven. The New York Herald Tribune called her the “greatest lady of our time.” Laurance Rockefeller, a patient of hers, wrote the foreword to her 1965 biography. She visited her native state often and is buried in Charlotte.

N. Campion and R. Stanton, Look to This Day! Lively Education of a Great Doctor: Connie Guion, M.D. (1965)
“Amazing Dr. Guion,” Look, September 12, 1961
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 383--sketch by Rosamond Putzel
Katherine G. Haskell, “Dr. Connie M. Guion,” Journal of the Association of Historians in North Carolina (Fall 1994): 47-66
(Raleigh) News and Observer, December 9, 1965
Asheville Citizen-Times, November 16,1958
Connie M. Guion 1882-1971 Historical Marker Location Map, Lincolnton, North Carolina