Museum Reprints ‘Petticoat Surgeon’ Autobiography by Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is pleased to announce that it has reprinted Petticoat Surgeon, the autobiography of Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen. The book was originally published in 1947. The reprinting celebrates Dr. Van Hoosen’s 158th birthday on March 26, and Women’s History month.

Van Hoosen sits at a table wearing a lab coat, glasses, and a stethoscope.

Bertha Van Hoosen (1863-1952), was born and raised in Stoney Creek Village – located on Tienken Road between Rochester and Dequindre Roads. The Village was established by her family in 1823. She attended the Stoney Creek Schoolhouse and then graduated from Pontiac High School. She attended the University of Michigan – following the example of her older sister who was a school teacher. However, Bertha changed directions and studied medicine – and became one of the very earliest women graduates from the UM medical school. 

Dr. Van Hoosen established a national reputation for her innovative procedures and techniques in appendix and “button-hole surgeries”. She also served as professor of medicine at the Women’s Medical College at Northwestern University, Loyola University, and the University of Chicago, where she was head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She was the co-founder and first president of the American Medical Women’s Association. In 1922-23, she was invited to China to teach modern operating techniques to women missionaries, and she presented at medical conferences throughout the world. She practiced medicine and surgery from 1892 until 1951 and retired at age 88 to take care of her older sister Alice.

A wall plague honoring Berth Van Hoosen.

Her home, the Van Hoosen Farmhouse, has been preserved as the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm preserving her legacy, that of her family who established our community, and of her niece, Dr. Sarah Van Hoosen Jones, a world renowned breeder of dairy cattle.

Petticoat Surgeon is one of the most remarkable autobiographies you will ever read,” said Museum Manager Patrick McKay. “To realize that our community raised such a brilliant and successful doctor, who overcame incredible challenges and obstacles, identifies an outstanding role model for everyone to follow. She led a life of service to her patients, to her family, to her community and to her profession. When she died in 1952, she was the best-known woman doctor in the world. You will not be disappointed with the purchase of this book and you will buy copies for all of your friends. Dr. Bertha’s story is incredible and magnificent and we are honored to share it.”

A copy of Petticoat Surgeon stands upright on a table for display.

The book is $30 at the Museum’s Online Bookstore. In addition to Petticoat Surgeon, many other local history books are available. The Museum will reopen this summer with new exhibits on the Van Hoosen Family and local history. For more Information, visit the Museum Website or call 248-656-4663.

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