Louise Gilman Hutchins, M.D., First Lady: 1939-1967

Summarized by Daniela I. Pirela Manares ’20Leave a Comment

Portrait of Louise Hutchins, M.D.

Louise Hutchins, M.D.

Louise Gilman was born to be a helper. Born in China to missionary parents, she dedicated her life to the well-being of others. During her life, she moved back and forth between her two homes, the United States and China. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1932 and married Francis S. Hutchins the following year. Louise Hutchins earned her M.D. from Yale University in 1936. After graduating from Yale, Hutchins returned to China to live with her husband, who was serving as an administrator for the Yale-in-China program, and to complete her medical internship caring for refugee children. It was during her internship in China that Hutchins became interested in family planning and maternal health services. In 1939, she returned to the U.S. after her husband accepted the presidency of Berea College. During this time, Hutchins served as the only pediatrician of the town until her retirement in 1967. Even after that, the Planned Parenthood supporter continued her devotion to the healthcare of children and indigent mothers. She helped establish and served as president and board director of the Mountain Maternal Health League. For years, the league provided health services and contraceptive information to patients who were geographically isolated.

Louise Hutchins looking into a child's mouth

Louise Hutchins served as Berea’s only pediatrician until her retirement in 1967.

After receiving an honorary degree and retiring from the College, Hutchins carried her work back to Hong Kong, where she completed a residency in gynecology. In 1970, Louise Hutchins’ work finally brought her back to Berea, where she continued to help improve the lives of children and women in Kentucky until her death in 1996.

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