Annie Alexander historical marker

Annie Alexander 1864-1929 (L-116)

First female physician licensed in N.C., 1885. Acting assistant surgeon at Camp Greene during WWI. Office was here.

Location: North Tryon Street in Charlotte
County: Mecklenburg
Original Date Cast: 2016

Annie Lowrie Alexander, born in Mecklenburg County in 1864, was educated at home by a tutor and by her father, Dr. John Brevard Alexander, who decided early on that his daughter should follow him into medicine. She graduated from Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia in 1884 and began teaching anatomy at the Woman’s Medical College in Maryland and practicing medicine in Baltimore.

In 1887 the following advertisement appeared in the Charlotte Observer: “A nice young female physician, Miss Annie Lowrie Alexander, has located in this city ready to practice among women and children and consult about female disorders generally… She has been educated in the best medical schools of the country.”

She was the first licensed female physician to practice in North Carolina. Her case load was largely gynecology, obstetrics, and early childhood diseases, but she treated a wide variety of illnesses during her long career. For most of her professional life, she practiced medicine in an office in her home on Tryon Street. She also served as physician to the local YWCA, the students at Presbyterian College for Women, and the Crittenton Home for unwed mothers. A proponent of civic involvement for women, Alexander taught by example, serving on many boards and speaking often to adolescents and women about education, hygiene, modesty, and physical health. Later in life she advocated for intelligent women to enter all aspects the medical profession.

During World War I, Charlotte was home to Camp Greene, a large training camp, which required a five-mile extra-cantonment sanitary zone in order to protect the health of military personnel. Another objective of the military sanitary zones was to improve the health of the community. It was to that end that, in 1917, Alexander received two wartime appointments. She was designated a temporary first lieutenant and acting assistant surgeon in the U. S. Army medical corps. Alexander took advantage of the opportunity to perform medical inspections at Mecklenburg County schools and to advocate for improved preventative and therapeutic medicine for children.

Although Alexander never married, she brought into her home and raised a boy born to an unwed mother at the Crittenton Home. After her brother died in 1901, she raised his seven children, as well. Alexander was a successful physician and keen businesswoman who enthusiastically doctored, educated, and supported her community and served as a role model for countless young women. She died of pneumonia, contracted from a patient, in 1929 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte.

James Douglas Alsop, “Annie Lowrie Alexander: “A Woman Doing Great Work in a Womanly Way,” in Michelle Gillespie and Sally G. Mc Millan, eds., North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times (2014)
James Alsop, “Narratives of Class, Gender and Medicine in the American South: The Dr. Annie Alexander Story”, Gender Forum: An International Journal for Gender Studies 25 (2009):…

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