Early Illinois Women

Dr. Melinda Knapheide Germann

This picture of Dr. Germann shows her standing outside with her doctor's bag. She was born in Quincy on July 16, 1863 and died on July 15, 1952. She practiced medicine in Quincy for over 50 years, beginning with her graduation from Quincy College of Medicine in 1886. She presented a paper to the AMA Convention in 1907, one of the few Quincy physicians to do so. In addition to her busy medical career, she was the first women elected to the Board of Education and the first woman elected to the Board of Supervisors.
This is a picture of Dr. Germann in summer dress. The photo is from a nursing class album, dated 1918. She joined the staff of Blessing Hospital in 1901, and taught Obstetrics to the nursing students from 1906 to 1936. Twice she traveled to Europe to take graduate courses in medicine. Shortly after graduation in 1886, she went to Zurich, Paris and Vienna. In 1913, she returned to Vienna for an additional 6 month course of study.
This photo of Dr. Germann shows her children both of whom were practicing physicians at Blessing Hospital. Dr. Hildegarde Germann Sinnock and Dr. Aldo Germann. Dr. Hildegarde, graduated from Vassar and Johns Hopkins, and Dr. Aldo Germann, a surgeon, graduated from Northwestern. Dr. Germann had retired by the time of this photo.
Dr. Germann wrote a short memoir in 1937, after she retired from over 50 years of practice. This first excerpt talks about her attending Medical School. " ... [I] entered the Quincy College of Medicine, which later became a department of Chaddock College. Our medical school here, although small was equipped with a good staff of physicians and surgeons. Our hospital advantages were perhaps somewhat limited. The dissecting material, however, was quite ample but no graves were robbed of their contents as the school was sometimes accused of. Our class not being so large, each received much individual attention. We numbered fourteen, eleven men and three women. Dr. J. W. Bitter and myself, members of the class are still active in the profession. After receiving my diploma from this school, I decided to further my studies in medicine and take a course abroad."
This part of the memoir relates a story of going to see patients in a sleigh. "When sleighing was good I made calls in a sleigh with Prince in the harness and sometimes the children would accompany me. One cold morning with a fine layer of snow, we started out. As you all know it takes more space to turn a sleigh then it does a buggy. I turned too short and our sleigh upset spilling out occupants, laprobe, medicine cases and all other paraphernalia. The sleigh righted itself and Prince went slowly on. He must have noticed that his load was lighter for he stopped and looked back to see if we were coming. We picked ourselves up along with our belongings and soon were on our way again."


  1. Dr. Melinda Germann, 88, pioneer woman physician, dies after long illness. (1952, July 15). The Quincy Herald-Whig.
  2. Germann, M. K. (1937). The reminiscences of a pioneer woman physician. Unpublished manuscript, Blessing Hospital at Quincy, IL.
  3. Manning, M. (1942, date unknown). Portraits of Miami's most interesting women: Dr. M. K. Germann [Talk of the tower]. Miami Herald.

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