Dr. Louise Klehm Archive

In 2004, Skokie Public Library received a grant to digitize materials documenting the life and career of Dr. Louise Klehm, Skokie's first woman doctor. 

Amelia Louise Klehm was born in 1870 to one of Skokie’s pioneer families. She graduated from Chicago Baptist Hospital’s nursing program in 1896. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Louise Klehm (as she liked to be called) enlisted in the Army Medical Corps and served in Miami caring for wounded soldiers. After the war, she decided to enroll in medical school, over her father’s objections and in spite of the fact that women entering medicine faced many difficulties in those days. Louise Klehm enrolled in the University of Illinois in Chicago, part of only the second class that included women. 

After graduation in 1902, Dr. Klehm worked with Dr. Rachelle Yarros at Hull House; later, Dr. Klehm studied surgery in Vienna and Berlin.  Dr. Klehm came home to Skokie to practice medicine; she became Skokie’s first woman doctor and an important fixture in the history of the Village.

Artifacts, medications, and surgical instruments

Daybook and ledger

Documents and letters

Newspaper articles


Other resources

Photo Artifacts, Medications, and Surgical Instruments

This collection contains photographs of Dr. Klehm's surgical kit, commonly prescribed medicines, and pins indicating her membership in various professional associations.

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Daybook and Ledger

From 1905 to about 1915, Dr. Louise Klehm kept a daybook where she recorded patient diagnoses, treatment, and payment. Each page is a detailed patient account in Dr. Klehm's own hand.  This is a fascinating record of rural medical practice in the early years of the 20th century.  

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Documents and Letters

Louise Klehm's medical school commencement program, her certificate of confirmation from St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church (in German), other official documents. This collection also contains a letter that Dr. Klehm's father, George Klehm, wrote to express his concerns about her plan to apply to medical school.

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Newspaper Articles

This collection contains an advertisement for Dr. Klehm's practice, as well as obituaries published in the local papers upon Dr. Klehm's death in 1941.

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This collection consists of photographs of Louise Klehm with her colleagues and her family.

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Other Resources

  • Changing the Face of Medicine
    An exhibit sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, this page celebrates America's women physicians and explores the ways in which women have influenced and enhanced the practice of medicine.
  • Her Father Called Her Doctor
    SkokieNet's Skokie History Center features an article about Dr. Louise Klehm by local teacher and writer Gillian Wolf.
  • History of Medicine
    A great collection of books, journals, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and video documenting the history of medicine.
  • Women in Medicine
    This About.com guide to women's history includes a substantial section about the history of women in medicine.

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Funding for this grant was awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Division of the Office of Secretary of State, and State Librarian Jesse White, using funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the federal Library Services and Technology Act.

For more information about this project or about Skokie history, send an email to a Skokie Public Library Reference Librarian or contact the Information Services Desk at 847.673.3733.