Dubuque a Hundred Years Ago: Dr. Mary Killeen Named DCMS President
Women in Leadership: 100 years ago this month, The Dubuque County Medical Society's new leader became Dr. Mary Killeen.
On December 13, 1921, Dr. Mary Killeen of Dubuque was elected president of The Dubuque County Medical Society. Killeen didn’t begin her working life as a doctor, she was a teacher first. Mary Killeen graduated from Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, (now The University of Northern Iowa) then returned to Dubuque to teach at Prescott Elementary School.
After several years of teaching, Killeen joined her sister Katherine at The University of Michigan. Mary entered the College of Medicine there, received her M.D. in 1904, then did graduate work at The University of Chicago, and at Harvard. Katherine graduated in 1903 and became a Dubuque high school teacher.
Dr. Killeen returned to Dubuque as a physician and surgeon, serving at both Finley and Mercy hospitals. Killeen was a noted professional lecturer, an area for which she was included in the Catholic “Who’s Who” of 1934-35, the first woman from Dubuque to be included.
Dr. Killeen was quite active in leadership roles in the Dubuque community. She was an officer in the Catholic Women’s League, and ran unsuccessfully for The Dubuque Board of Education in 1921 on the “No Party” ticket. She was a charter member of The Dubuque Art Association and also a member of the Civic Music Association.
Mary Killeen was not the first female doctor in Dubuque. That was Dr. Nancy Hill who began practicing medicine here in 1875.
Dr. Mary Killeen died in July 1937. A front-page obituary in The Dubuque Telegraph Herald listed her family home address as 504 Bluff Street (The Redstone). Dr. Killeen’s office was located at 883 Bluff Street. At least one US Census listed Dr. Killen’s home address as 852 Bluff Street, right across the street. The doctor’s office hours were listed in the Dubuque City Directory of 1908 as 8:00 - 10:00 AM, 1:30 - 3:00 PM, and 7:00 - 8:00 PM.
Dr. Mary Killeen was buried in Dubuque’s Mount Olivet Cemetery.
References: aebooks.com, Dubuque Telegraph Herald Archives, Encyclopedia Dubuque, find a grave.com, peoplelegacy.com, US Library of Congress, U.S. National Library of Medicine.