Sarah Read Adamson Dolley, MD
(1829–1909) Dr. Sarah was a woman of rare distinction. In 1847, one year prior to the first Woman’s Rights convention in Seneca Falls, she was already breaking gender barriers. In that year, she began her studies for a medical degree at Central Medical College in Syracuse, NY. She became the second woman in America to become a doctor and the first woman to complete a hospital internship.
After graduation, she became Rochester’s first female physician. It was there that she became friends with Susan B. Anthony. When Susan voted illegally in the 1872 federal election, Sarah and 13 other women voted illegally alongside her.
In 1881, Dr. Sarah was president of the “Ignorance Club," a group of prominent women who met to learn about issues of interest to them. More than just a social club, these women intended to learn about and agitate for social reform on important matters. They advocated for inclusion of women on the boards of Rochester’s schools and the Western New York House of Refuge. They also sought the appointment of a woman as matron for the Rochester City Jail. These reforms were enacted due to their efforts.
In 1893, Dr. Sarah became a founding member of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, an organization whose mission was to address women’s unique needs for better working conditions in factories, job training, education, nutritional support, and legal advocacy. That organization is still active today and is known as the Rochester Legal Aid Society.
Mount Hope Cemetery
Section I, Lot 107
1133 Mount Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620