Dr. Nancy Maria Hill


"Dr. Hill was characterized by a great intellect, high ethics, and a generous, cheerful disposition. She delivered over 1,000 babies and felt great sympathy for unwed mothers and their babies."
—Ann Straley, 1987

Dr. Nancy Maria Hill, born in Boston in 1833, was one of the first women physicians in the United States. Dr. Hill began her career as a nurse during the Civil War, an experience that led her to pursue a degree in medicine. In 1874, she graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and shortly after moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where she practiced medicine for 36 years. Dr. Hill was a tireless advocate for pregnant women and children. "I was never a mother but brought about 1000 children into this world," she once wrote. In the late 1800s, she organized the Women's Rescue Society of Dubuque, which later became the Hillcrest Deaconess Home and Baby Fold. Now known as Hillcrest Family Services, this institution has served tens of thousands of clients with vital social services. In her own words, Dr. Hill was "interested in all philanthropic works that come into a physician's life." She was also active in local, state, and national medical societies, often as the only woman participating and, in later years, was heartened to see more women entering her beloved profession. She died in 1919. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1989.