Rachelle Yarros, M.D. and Hull House

Rachelle Yarros was born to a wealthy Russian family and received the best education available. However, at the age of eighteen, she became involved with Nihilists and was forced to flee to America. Yarros worked in a sweatshop with other immigrants and refused financial help from her parents. Rachelle met her husband, fellow Russian immigrant Victor Yarros, in Boston, and he encouraged her to continue her studies.

Yarros became the first woman to study at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston. She officially received her M.D. from Woman's Medical College in Philadelphia in 1893. Yarros then interned at New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston in 1894. The following year, she and Victor moved to Chicago and became residents at Hull-House. Here Yarros started a successful obstetrical and gynecological practice. She also worked as an instructor and professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Yarros was a strong supporter of birth control and sex education, and helped found the American Social Hygiene Association, the Illinois Birth Control League, and opened the first birth control clinic in Chicago. Yarros taught about and researched birth control throughout her life, becoming the only Professor of Social Hygiene at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1926. Yarros wrote a book, Modern Women and Sex, in 1933.