This afternoon I was looking for the file on Moshe Vardi and I paused to check out the folder right next to his. Interestingly, it’s mislabeled. It says”Francis Van Zandt,” which is also how her name appears in the 1922 Campanile. I had never heard of her.
The Campanile managed to misspell her entire name. She was actually Frances Vanzant, which took me quite some time to figure out. The reason I bothered to keep looking (and the reason I forgot about Moshe) is that the stuff in the folder was so unexpected. It was full of newspaper clippings, all praising the “girl doctor” who went off to Spain during its civil war as part of an American unit of doctors and nurses who provided medical services to refugees. This piece is from the New York Daily News, published on May 3, 1938:
I found this picture of her with the group of medical personnel she led to Spain in the fantastic Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. She’s in the middle of the front row:
Dr. Vanzant earned her medical degree from the University of Texas medical school in Galveston and was one of the first two women to intern at John Sealy Hospital. She then spent five years at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota before she returned to Houston and private practice as a gastroenterologist.
There’s some indication in the file that she may have written a series of columns for the Houston Post during her time in Spain so I hope to have more about her soon. I think she’s wonderful and I’d like to hear more from her.
Bonus: Here’s her Campanile photo. She looks very serious. That big round collar is a dead giveaway that it’s 1922, by the way. All the girls had them.