Fort Worth pathologist May Owen, MD, blazed many a trail during her long career in medicine. Now, digital versions of the papers and records that document her path are available in the Portal to Texas History.
Clinically, Dr. Owen is perhaps best known for discovering that the talcum powder used on surgical gloves caused infections and scarring in patients. She was also a glass-ceiling buster in organized medicine, serving as the first female president of the Texas Society of Pathologists, of the Tarrant County Medical Society, and – in 1960 – of the Texas Medical Association. She is a member of the Texas Women's Hall of Fame and the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
The collection that TMA made available to the Portal to Texas History includes letters from, to, and about Dr. Owen as well as newspaper clippings documenting her career. In one item, a draft of an article entitled "Why I Have Shared," Dr. Owen discusses her reasons for establishing the May Owen Trust, which to this day underwrites loans for Texas medical students.
"I have been committed to a medical career since age nine," she wrote. "It seemed then ― as it has always and likewise now ― that through medicine, I can best help others. Does it not follow, then, that I would want to do everything possible to help men and women who aspire to study medicine? Without help, counseling, encouragement, and financial aid, I could have failed. What an ungrateful person I would be if I forgot all the help I have received, and had not found ways to pay back by investing in youngsters."
Created and maintained by the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries, the Portal to Texas History is a digital gateway to historical materials from or about Texas from private collectors, libraries, museums, historical archives, and other historical groups. Every month, more than half a million visitors from around the world discover historical treasures from across the state via free public access to the portal.
In 2015, TMA entered into an agreement with UNT Libraries and the Portal to Texas History through their Rescuing Texas History (RTH) mini-grant program. RTH periodically invites institutions and individuals to apply for digitization "mini-grants." Winners receive services that include scanning, description, and hosting of their items on the portal. TMA initially received a grant worth $1,000 to digitize notable issues of TMA's monthly publication the Texas State Journal of Medicine (now Texas Medicine), including the centennial and sesquicentennial issues.
In 2016, TMA submitted another successful RTH mini-grant application to digitize and present the association's May Owen, MD, collection.
Action, April 3, 2017