Dr Alice Robson

Alice Robson was born Alice Lilian Louise Cumming in 1870, in Houston, Renfew, her father was a General Practitioner.

Alice achieved her M.B and C.M Glasgow in 1894 and received her Doctor of Public Health in Cambridge in 1899.  Alice married Henry Cumming Robson, in 1901, a mathematician and fellow of Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, who later become the Bursar. They moved to 10 Park Terrace, Cambridge.

On 2nd December 1904 the Cambridge Independent Press reported a meeting of the Ladies’ Discussion Society Chaired by Alice Robson, referred to as a qualified medical woman.

It is uncertain if Dr Robson practised medicine in Cambridge before the war, as she does not appear to be listed in the street directories as a physician up to this time. However The Cambridge Independent Press lists Mrs Robson appointed as a medical adviser to the Cambridge Charity Organisation Society. In the same paper there is one reference to a Dr Robson acting as an examiner with Dr Dorothy Hare at a Red Cross Nursing examination on Friday 14 January 1916, so it is possible they were contemporaries.

As early as 1915 the Addenbrooke’s Minutes report that the surgical team requested the use of women doctors to act as anaesthetists in order to meet the shortage of male doctors, called to the front. It was not until November 1919 that Mrs Robson was appointed. Other women were to join the team of anaesthetists but Mrs Robson is again mentioned in the hospital minutes in March 1929 when she offered her resignation after nine years. Interestingly she is reappointed in 1931 to join the team of auxiliary anaesthetists to be on hand to cover holidays.

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