A ground-breaking medical doctor
Sara Claudia Murray Jordan was born on October. 20th, 1884, in Newton, Massachusetts. Her father was Patrick Murray an Irish emigre, owned a carriage and automobile repair shop. Her Mother Maria Stuart, was of English and Scottish heritage, who was born in Maine. Sara was the second of seven Murray children. She attended public school in Newton.
Sara attended Radcliffe College beginning in 1901 and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1904, in only three years. Her main passion was medicine but her parents discouraged her explaining that it would be very difficult for a woman in that field. She completed her PhD in classical philology and archaeology at the university of Munich, in Germany, graduating in 1908, magna cum laude. Shortly after graduation her thesis, titled A Study of the Life of Andres, the Fool for the sake of Christ, was published. She accepted a teaching position at Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, but after a very short time she returned to Germany.
In 1913 she married a German lawyer, Sebastian Jordan. They had one child, Mary Stuart Jordan born in 1914. Her parents urged her to return to the States when World War I broke out, and she did. She never returned to Germany and she and Jordan divorced in 1921.
In 1917, at the age of 33, she was accepted to Tufts Medical School on a probationary status and had to agree to complete not only the required medical courses but also chemistry and zoology. She did this despite her parents strenuous objection and the fact she was now a single mother, raising her daughter. She did it well, meeting all of the conditions, yet she was still not released from probationary status. She called for an investigation by the American Medical Association. Her status was changed immediately!
Her time at Tufts set the stage for her subsequent highly successful career. As a second year student she was invited by the eminent and well known Dr. Frank Lahey to attend his clinical studies at the New England Deaconess Hospital. The research was focused on thyroid function and metabolic rates. It was during this time she wrote her first scientific paper with Dr. Lahey, addressing treatment of diseases of the thyroid, and it was published.
In 1921 her lifelong dream of becoming a medical doctor was not only fulfilled but she graduated at the top her class. She was immediately offered a position at Worcester Memorial Hospital and from there she pursued more advanced training in gastroenterology with Dr. Bertram Sippy at Rush Medical College in Chicago. Dr. Sippy, who was an internist, was recognized worldwide because of his medical (as opposed to surgical) treatment of ulcer disease.
Upon completion of her GI training in Chicago, she returned to Boson where she opened her own small, home based practice in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she also raised her young daughter who was now 8 years old. Four years later she joined her old mentor, Dr. Lahey as a full founding member of the Lahey Clinic. She headed the gastroenterology practice, where she remained active for the rest of her career.
Sara received numerous awards. She was elected the first woman president of the American Gastroenterological Association in 1942; served on the Boston Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in 1948 was a member of the Board of Trustees of Tufts University in 1951; received the Friedenwald Medal in 1952 for outstanding achievements; When she retired from her practice in 1958 she wrote a syndicated newspaper column, “Health and Happiness.”
She advocated for women both in personal and public roles stating that “femininity need not conflict with professional achievement.”