Women in Medical Science: Bessie Moses


Bessie Moses was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1893 to a family of German-Jewish descent. She attended Goucher College and graduated in 1915, and then attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins University.

After one year of medical school, Moses left to pursue teaching, encouraged solely by her father. She taught biology and zoology, first at Sarah Newcomb College, then at Wellesly College. She did this for two years, and then returned to Johns Hopkins University.

She graduated in 1922, and decided to become an obstetrician and a gynecologist. Moses interned at Johns Hopkins briefly after graduating – she was the first female obstetrical intern at that institution! She then transferred to the Women’s Hospital in Philadelphia, a groundbreaking institution that boasted an all-female staff.

Moses moved back to Baltimore and opened her own private practice in 1924. She also worked at multiple hospitals in the area as an obstetrician, but after a few years found it too taxing and began focusing on solely gynecology.

bessie moses

At her practice, she counseled women on marriage, family planning, and contraceptives. She soon opened multiple birth control clinics around the area, and eventually the country. Later, these clinics became known as Planned Parenthood.


Throughout her life, Moses fought for contraceptive rights, by counseling women, speaking to Congress, and writing a widely available book about gynecology techniques and contraceptives. She won countless awards for her efforts.

Bessie Moses passed away on March 25, 1965.