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Elizabeth Adelaide Baker

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Elizabeth Adelaide Baker

Photo courtesy of the family of Dr Baker

Elizabeth Adelaide Baker (1871-1928)

The first application by a woman to become a Fellow of the College came in 1897 from Elizabeth Adelaide Baker, who was already a licentiate of the College via the Triple Qualification. The Triple Qualification was a combined medical and surgical qualification set up by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in response to the General Medical Council's attempt to create one licensing body in Scotland. 

The College sought legal advice and refused to admit Baker, based on a minor technicality within medical legislation. The College concluded that women were “not eligible among the brethren” of Fellows. While refused, Baker’s attempt at obtaining fellowship represented a bold push for gender equality in medicine. 

Baker practiced medicine in many locations, including Greenhill House in Orkney and Lady Gomm Memorial Mission House and Accident Hospital in Rotherhithe. The base layer of the design features architectural silhouettes reflecting her connection to these places. The College Hall windows represent her connection here, as an outsider looking in, while the outline of instruments reference Baker’s adaptability as a practitioner. She was the first woman to ride a bicycle on a saddle in Oxford, and the wheels hint at this part of her story. Florals including gladiolus, magnolia and jasmine speak of her strength, perseverance and healing nature.