A GRACIOUS LADY, Miss Sophia Presley, M.D., seems to ponder over the seven years of strife she endured prior to being recognized as Camden's first female physician, in 1890. Dr. Presley broke down strong prejudice against her sex in the medical profession, much of which was exerted by other women. This picture is taken from a group photo showing her seated with men who were leaders of the Camden County Medical Society more than 80 years ago.
Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Camden and Burlington Counties, New Jersey
Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Co., 1897
SOPHIA PRESLEY, M.D., whose office is at 405 Penn Street, Camden, N.J., is one of the most successful and widely known women physicians of the day. A daughter of William and Leticia Presley, she was born in County Fermanaugh, Ireland. Her grandfather, James Presley, was a well-to-do farmer and large land-owner in Fermanagh; and in that county her father was born.
William Presley was reared and educated in his native place, and for some time was extensively engaged in farming there. In 1850 he sailed for America, taking with him his wife and children. The little family landed in New York, and then, traveling westward to Ohio, settled in Stuebenville, Jefferson County, where Mr. Presley, who was a well educated man, afterward obtained a position as a clerk in a glass manufactory. He is now living in that city, retired from active work, being over eighty years old. His wife, Letitia Moore, also a native of Ireland, was daughter of William Moore. She died at the age of fifty-four, shortly after arriving on these shores. Mr. and Mrs. Presley were the parents of three children: Sophia, the subject of this sketch; Alice, wife of Isaiah James; and William, who resides in Stuebenville. The father was a second time married, and by this union had two children. The family are all members of the Episcopal church.
Sophia Presley acquired the rudiments of her education in private schools in her native land before coming to this country. In Ohio she attended the Grandville Episcopal Seminary, and after graduating began immediately to teach, in order to pay for the money forwarded for her expenses on that condition. She began her work as an assistant teacher in the grammar and high school of Dresden, Ohio, and at the end of four years resigned to take a position in the Barnett Academy at Charleston, Indiana. Here she was associated with her former teachers. She gave instruction in the English language and the higher mathematics for three years; and then, the principal leaving the school, she shortly followed. A year later she went to Wellsville OH, where she was engaged in teaching until 1876.
While in Charleston she was advised by an eminent physician to study medicine, and for some time prior to resigning her position in the school she studied in private. In 1876 she entered the Woman's Medical College m Philadelphia; and after graduating in 1879 she was for some time intern at the Woman's Hospital of Philadelphia, and was also demonstrator or instruction surgery at the Women's Medical College, and clinic physician at the Woman's Hospital. In 1881 she opened an office in Camden, where she was an entire stranger, and by the strength of her unusual merits and her ambition to succeed has worked up a large practice. Her visiting list now includes the best families in the city, and she is called in consultation with the most eminent physicians on Philadelphia and other cities.
An indefatigable worker, Dr. Presley belongs to a number of societies and has written several valuable papers on medical and sanitary subjects that have been received with approval. She is a member of the Alumni Association of the Woman's Medical College of Philadelphia; a member of the Camden City Medical Society of which she was for two years Secretary; a member of the Camden County Medical Society and the American Medical Association. She is now instructor in the New Jersey Training School for Nurses. Dr. Presley is also a member of the Woman's Club of Camden and the Woman's Park Association, and has written some interesting papers in regard to the latter society which were published in the Camden papers. She attends worship at St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church.
article about Dr. Sophia Presley
by Mrs. Cleora Treffeau
Retired educator and Camden County Historical Society trustee
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