Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame to induct Anne Beddow and Sarah Gayle

Sarah Haynsworth Gayle (1804–1835) and Anne Mae Beddow (1893–1974) will be inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame at Judson College on Thursday, March 3, 2016, at 10:30 am.

The lives of these two women reflect the change in the position of women in Alabama, and attitudes towards them, in a half century.

Sarah Haynsworth married John Gayle, a jurist and politician, in 1819, the year Alabama became a state.  They had eight children; two were stillborn.  Her life revolved around caring for their children in Greensboro, while he was absent for extended periods.

When John Gayle was elected governor in 1831, the Alabama legislature insisted that the governor reside in the state capital, then in Tuscaloosa. The Gayles moved there, where Sarah lived for the rest of her life.

As her husband grew increasingly absorbed in his political career, Sarah Gayle began a journal that detailed daily life around her. She included observations about the constant danger of disease, death, and financial ruin as well as a picture of the condition of women’s lives and their position in a near-frontier society.

John Gayle was away on business when Sarah developed tetanus following extraction of a tooth without anesthesia. Although her husband was notified, he did not arrive before she died at the age of thirty, leaving six young children.

The journal of Sarah Gayle provides historians with information available nowhere else.  Her journal is one of the most important surviving documents of Alabama’s early history as a state. It is one of the most widely studied and seminal accounts of antebellum life in the American South.

The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827-1835: A Substitute for Social Intercourse, edited by Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins and Ruth Smith Truss, is available from the University of Alabama Press.

 Anne Mae BeddowAnne Mae Beddow attended the St. Vincent School of Nursing, the first nursing school in Alabama, and the Lakeside School of Anesthesia in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1918, she was inducted into the first unit of the Army Nurse Corps as a Lieutenant. She served as a pioneer nurse anesthetist with Base Hospital No 102 in Vincenzo, Italy. During the “Vittorio Veneto” offensive on Italian Front Beddow developed the technique for administering pentothal sodium intravenously for major surgery patients. Her technique was used well through the twentieth century. For her service in Italy as member of U.S. Army Nurse Corps she was awarded the Victory Medal by the United States and two medals by the Italian government for her work with Italian soldiers.

Beddow was a charter member and first President of the Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists, later serving four more terms as President. In 1931 she was a founding member of Southeastern Association of Nurse Anesthetists. She was also a charter member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and served as Trustee/Director.

Part of her life’s collection of publications and papers is housed in Alabama Archives and was included in a WWI Symposium held at the Alabama Archives in June 2015.

In 2015 Beddow was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists for life devoted to service and the advancement of women and medicine.

The induction ceremony will take place in the Ramsay-McCrummen Chapel on the Judson College campus in Marion, Ala., and will be open to the public at no charge. A luncheon will follow the induction ceremony. Reservations are required for the luncheon; contact Beth Poole at 334-683-5109 for more information.

The AWHOF, founded in 1970, is housed in the A. Howard Bean Hall on the campus of Judson College in Marion, Alabama.

PHOTO CAPTION: Anne Mae Beddow


Beth Poole |
Acting Coordinator for Alumnae Relations
Judson College
302 Bibb St., Marion, AL 36756 | 334-683-5109

Leave a Reply