702 Barnhill Dr.

"Front view of Riley Hospital, n.d.," UA24-002659,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

In 1916, a group of friends of poet James Whitcomb Riley formed the Riley Memorial Fund in his honor. The group intended to collect enough money to build a children’s hospital on Indiana University’s campus, since Riley had always loved children, and wrote about them in many of his poems. This dream became a reality when the hospital finally opened in 1924 with a bed capacity of eighty patients. 1

Besides traditional medicine, Riley Hospital offered one of Indiana’s first occupational therapy programs. The hospital would go on to become a national leader in children’s health care.

Women at Riley Hospital have served in many important capacities. As doctors, nurses, and occupational therapists, women have provided medical care to thousands of children.

Winifred Conrick Kahmann
First Director of Occupational Therapy at Indiana University School of Medicine

"Winifred C. Kahmann, ca. 1940," UA24-007066,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

A pioneer in her field, Winifred Kahmann later explained how she chose her profession: “Two of my sisters were nurses…I thought I wanted to be but mother said she didn’t want any more nurses. I went into about the closest thing to it.” Winifred Kahmann became a student in the first graduating class in Occupational Therapy at Devereux Mansion School in Massachusetts, one of the first schools to offer the degree. When Kahmann graduated, few hospitals in the United States had accepted the value of this new field. In fact, the Indianapolis Star later declared that she was "instrumental in introducing it to the Middle West." 2

Unlike physical therapists, who helped patients regain the use of their limbs, occupational therapists worked to help ill or injured patients redevelop their coordination. They coached patients in improving their ability to complete everyday activities, like dressing, eating, or writing. Kahmann once explained, “We learn the interest and aptitudes of patients and build from there.” 3

In 1924, the Indianapolis Junior League hired Kahmann to head the occupational therapy clinic that it planned to establish at Riley Hospital for Children. Under Kahmann’s direction, the occupational therapy program at Riley evolved into one of the best programs in the country. After becoming its own separate program within the School of Medicine, a degree in occupational therapy was offered under Kahmann’s supervision. In 1934, she was appointed director of Occupational Therapy and Physio-Therapy. In this role, Kahmann supervised programs at all of Indiana University’s hospitals. She also coordinated the cerebral palsy clinic and helped establish a burn clinic. By this time, Kahmann was known nationally not only as a pioneer but also as one of the best occupational therapists in the country. Students nationwide flocked to Indiana University to train under her. 4

Winifred Kahmann, 1959, UA24-001631
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

During the early 1940s, Kahmann became a member of the National Research Council Committee on Occupational Therapy, which worked to develop an official therapy program approved by the office of the Surgeon General. As a result of this activity as well as her national reputation, in 1943, the United States Army appointed Kahmann its Chief of Occupational Therapy. She served in Washington, D.C. for two and a half years, overseeing the therapy of soldiers wounded in World War II. In 1946, Kahmann returned to Riley Hospital, where she continued her duties until retiring in 1959. 5

Nancy Arnold Roeske
Nationally Recognized Psychiatrist

"Nancy Roeske, 1978,”
Taken by IUPUI Photographer Rick Baughn,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

New opportunities opened to women physicians as a result of physician shortages during World War II. Because so many potential male students had been drafted, some of the country’s most elite medical institutions reluctantly opened their doors to women. By 1945, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities had all begun to admit female students. In fact, between 1948 and 1951, women physicians graduated from medial school at the highest rates ever, constituting as much as 12.1% of all medical graduates during those years. 6

As males returned from their wartime service, however, female physicians found their newfound successes overshadowed by their male colleagues. Throughout the 1950s, the number of practicing female physicians stagnated at only 6%. During the 1950s and 1960s, the majority of opportunities for female physicians remained in private practice rather than academic positions. 7 By the late 1960s, women slowly began to gain some ground in the profession, as a result of both the great shortage in physicians and feminists' protests. As a result, a new generation of women physicians found increased opportunities in academic medicine. One of these women was Nancy Arnold Roeske.

Roeske credited her success in medicine to the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, stating, “The recrudescence of the woman’s movement over the past 2 decades has given me an opportunity to move beyond the social constraints placed on previous generations of women physicians in medical education and political activism.” 8

A woman of many achievements, known both locally and nationally for her commitment to Indiana University's psychiatry program and to her patients, Dr. Roeske's lifestyle was later described by her colleagues as consisting of “Hard work, a deep professional commitment and an immense concern for her students and trainees remained hallmarks of Dr. Roeske’s life to the very last.” 9

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Roeske's mother and father were both surgeons and encouraged their daughter to follow a similar professional path. Roeske attended Vassar College and Cornell Medical School, graduating in 1954. While beginning her residency at IU, she married Dr. Roger Roeske, a professor of Chemistry. Roeske left her residency after the birth of her first daughter, but later returned and completed her residency in Adult and Child Psychiatry. In 1964, Roeske became the director of the Riley Child Guidance Clinic. 10

In 1974, Roeske became Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. She was highly interested in medical education and worked to redevelop the department's undergraduate curriculum. She also served as the coordinator of Medical Education in the Department of Psychiatry from 1976 until her death in 1986. Roeske was widely regarded as an outstanding leader, and was credited with starting many innovative programs in patient care and student education. 11

In the larger Indiana community, Roeske offered mental health services to underprivileged families in Central Indiana. She was one of the first psychiatrists in Indiana to advocate a family-oriented approach to treating children's mental health problems. Roeske also became a leading expert on mental illness associated with blindness, and served at the Indiana State School for the Blind for twenty-two years. 12

Roeske's contributions to the field of psychiatry extended well beyond her influences in Indiana. She served as editor of the Psychiatric Annals, a nationally recognized psychiatry journal. She was also elected to the Board of Trustees of American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association. Roeske became an advocate for issues facing female physicians, serving as the first chair of the American Psychiatrists Association's Task Force on Women. For all of work, both locally and nationally, Roeske received the distinguished American Association of University Women Achievement Award in 1979. 13


1 Rice, 163-4; Gray, 20.

2 “Inside Indianapolis – Hoosier Profile,” Indianapolis Times, 25 October 1947, p. 5 c.1; “They Achieve Minds and Hands of Indianapolis Women at Work for Others,” Indianapolis Star, 16 March 1941, Sec. 4 p. 6 c. 3.

3 “Medical Center to Honor Mrs. Kahmann With a Tea Friday in Ball Residence,” Indianapolis Times, 9 November 1949, p. 7 c. 1.

4 “Inside Indianapolis – Hoosier Profile;” “They Achieve Minds and Hands of Indianapolis Women at Work for Others;” “Medical Center to Honor Mrs. Kahmann With a Tea Friday in Ball Residence;”

5 “Named to Direct Army Therapists,” Indianapolis Star, 10 November 1943, p. 1 c. 4; “Medical Center to Honor Mrs. Kahmann With a Tea Friday in Ball Residence.”

6 Walsh, 209.

7 More, 190.

8 Nancy C.A. Roeske, “Life Stories as Careers – Careers as Life Stories,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 28, no. 2 (Winter 1985): 241.

9 “Roeske, Nancy C.A., 1977- 1980,” Box 126, School of Medicine Records, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

10 Ibid.

11 “Resume – Nancy C. A. Roeske, M.D.,” Box 126, School of Medicine Records.

12 “Roeske, Nancy C.A., 1977- 1980;” “Resume – Nancy C. A. Roeske, M.D.”

13 Ibid.


List of Sites


Site 1: Robert Long Hospital (LO) 1110 W. Michigan St.


Site 2: William H. Coleman Hospital for Women (CF)
1140 W. Michigan St.


Site 3: Ball Nurses’ Residence (BR)
1226 W. Michigan St.


Site 4: Riley Hospital for Children (RI)
702 Barnhill Dr.


Site 5: Fesler Hall (FH)
1120 South Dr.


* Site 6: Bobbs Merrill Company Building
122 E Michigan St


Site 7: Cavanaugh Hall (CA)
425 University Blvd.


Site 8: Natatorium (PE)
901 W. New York St.


Site 9: Eskenazi Hall (HR) (Herron School of Art)
735 W. New York St.


Site 10: Education/Social Work Building (ES)
902 W. New York St.


Site 11: University Library (UL)
755 W. Michigan St.


* Site 12: IUPUI Center for Women
1317 W Michigan St


Site 13: Lawrence W. Inlow Hall (IH) (School of Law)
530 W. New York St.


Site 14: Administrative Building (AO)
355 N. Lansing St.



(* former sites)


© Website Copyright 2007, Amy Schramm
© Content Copyright 2007, Mary Owen
For educational use only