Single Payer Healthcare-How does it Work? Could it work in the U.S.? A forum on April 25, 2018

Wednesday April 25, 2018 6:30-8pm
Single Payer Healthcare-
How does it Work? Could it work in the U.S.?

moderated by Ginger Christ, Plain Dealer Heathcare Reporter

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Video from the forum

Some think that single payer healthcare is the answer to our healthcare problems and others think it will bankrupt the country and won’t work. This forum will explore both sides with a particular emphasis on how it might impact Northeast Ohio.

John R. Corlett, President and Executive Director, The Center for Community Solutions

Susan M. Mego, MHA, Executive Director-Managed Care, MetroHealth Partners

J. B. Silvers, Ph.D. Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management and School of Medicine

Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Lakewood Public Library Main Branch
15425 Detroit Ave. Lakewood OH 44107

Ginger Christ

Cosponsored by
Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Dealer plus Heights, Lakewood, Shaker and Cuyahoga County Library Systems.

Corporate sponsor: First Interstate, Ltd.

Roads Less Traveled: Cleveland’s Women Doctors, 1852-1984 by Marian Morton

photos: (l) Dr. Myra King Merrick  (r) Dr. Sarah Marcus

Roads Less Traveled:
Cleveland’s Women Doctors, 1852-1984

by Marian J. Morton

The pdf is here
It’s not easy to become a doctor; the road is long and hard. For generations of women, it was longer and harder. But not impossible. Challenged by cultural and institutional obstacles, these Cleveland women chose alternative routes to their profession. Often barred from medical schools and hospitals, they established their own; often unwelcome in established medical specialties, they laid claim to others; often sidelined in public life, they remained politically committed to women’s causes. These doctors took the roads less traveled.


Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to graduate from a medical school – Geneva Medical College – in 1847. Her graduation was unusual for two reasons: first, the usual route to becoming a doctor – like that of becoming a lawyer – was through an apprenticeship with an older, more experienced practitioner – not by going to medical school. Second, although by the 1820s, there were a dozen medical schools – at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Yale, and Georgetown, for example, – none admitted women. Women were considered too fragile, intellectually and physically unable to tackle the rigors of higher education. This popular wisdom was reinforced by experts such as Harvard’s Dr. E.H. Clarke, whose Sex in Education: A Fair Chance for Girls argued in 1873 that studying impaired women’s reproductive organs, denying them the maternal role that was a woman’s true destiny. In any case, so the rationale continued, even if they were willing to risk infertility, women should be too modest to sit in the same classrooms as men studying such things as human anatomy.

Blackwell’s admission into Geneva, a small school in upstate New York, was a prank played by the students upon the faculty. Extremely reluctant to accept her, the faculty allowed students to vote on Blackwell’s admission. “The ludicrousness of the situation seemed to seize the entire class, and a perfect Babel of talk, laughter, and cat calls followed,” recalled one young man. To the faculty’s dismay, the students voted yes. [1] Despite the subsequent hostility and harassment, Blackwell graduated at the top of her class. The college then shut its doors to women.

Blackwell also created the career path that other women would follow. Finding it difficult to compete with male doctors, she specialized in the care of women and children, taking advantage of the very cultural norms that had been barriers to her education. Women were thought to have the innately nurturing qualities appropriate for pediatrics: after all, women were born to be mothers. And the very modesty that prevented them sharing the classroom with men meant that a woman patient should be treated only by other women. These were not medical specialties that paid well. After her graduation, Blackwell established the New York Infirmary for poor women and children.

Geneva Medical College was a “regular” or “allopathic” institution. Most regular medical schools required 32-40 weeks of lectures and an apprenticeship and boasted a curriculum based on what mid-nineteenth century Americans knew about chemistry, human anatomy, surgery, and bacteriology.  Common medical practices by regularly trained doctors also included “heroic” measures such as bleeding, leeches, and harsh emetics.

In 1847, the nascent American Medical Association (AMA) urged that regular schools also include clinical instruction. This effort to establish rigorous standards for the profession was a response to the mid-century proliferation of doctors and the medical institutions that produced them, a proliferation encouraged by lax state licensing laws and the uncertainty about what exactly cured what. Many of these new schools were proprietary or for-profit. Many taught alternative therapies. Regulars or “allopaths” referred to these latter competitors as “irregular” or “sectarian,” suggesting their quackery and illegitimacy.

These therapies, like allopathic medicine itself, reflected the widespread desire to improve American health. Health reforms included temperance (abstinence from alcohol), diet reform (vegetarianism and Grahamism); herbalism (reliance upon age-old natural remedies); hydropathy (cure by drinking or immersion in water), or the most tenacious, homeopathy (based upon the theory that diseases can be cured by very small doses of drugs that produce the same symptoms as the disease – that is, like cures like). While the regulars charged that these remedies were ineffective, they at least followed the ancient medical dictum, “do no harm,” which is more than could be said of bleeding or emetics.

The irregular institutions were – at least initially – happy to accept women, and when irregular institutions joined the regulars in excluding women, women sometimes established their own – the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital College for Women, for example. Most of the women’s schools were short-lived, dying or merging with regular medical institutions, for financial reasons. [2]  By the end of the century, state universities’ medical schools began to admit women – the University of Michigan was the first. And persuaded by a large gift dependent on admitting women, the medical school of John Hopkins University, the standard-bearer for all higher education, became coeducational in 1893.[3]

In 1910, educator Abraham Flexner’s famous report criticized the mediocre quality and the profit motive of much medical education, recommending that students have at least a high school degree and two years of college before entering medical school and that medical students receive in-hospital clinical training. His particular targets were the “sectarian” and for-profit schools. In the wake of his report, dozens of medical schools merged or closed, many of them “irregulars,” women’s historic route into the profession. [4]

Nevertheless, by 1910, 6 percent of all doctors were female. Cleveland women showed how this could happen.

First Graduates

The Cleveland Medical College in 1852 graduated its first woman, Dr. Nancy Talbot Clarke. The medical college was affiliated with Western Reserve College, located in Hudson, Ohio. (After Western Reserve College moved to University Circle in 1882, the medical school became the Western Reserve University (WRU) School of Medicine.) Clarke managed to graduate despite the hostility of the faculty, who in 1851 had unanimously supported the motion that “it is inexpedient to admit female students to our lectures.”   A handful of other women braved this inhospitable atmosphere, and six were graduated by 1856. [5]   Among them were Dr. Emily Blackwell, Elizabeth Blackwell’s sister, and Dr. Marie Zakrzewski. Both went to work at Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell’s infirmary in New York City. Zakrzewski then went to Boston, where she founded an institution similar to the Blackwells’, the New England Hospital for Women and Children in 1862.

The AMA in 1856, fearful that female physicians would lower the status of the new profession, adopted a resolution against coeducation. Although a few women managed to graduate during the 1870s from the Cleveland Medical College, it resurrected – and enforced – , the 1851 policy beginning in the mid-1880s.[6] No women were admitted until 1918 when the dwindling enrollment of male students due to the United States entrance into World War I inspired a change of heart and admissions policy.

Dr. Myra King Merrick (1825-1899)

Merrick was Cleveland’s first woman physician. When she hung out the shingle advertising her services in 1852, “no circus bill ever attracted more curious attention.”   The daughter of English immigrants, Merrick herself began to work in the textile mills near Boston at age 8. She married in 1848. (Until her divorce in 1880, she was referred to as “Mrs. Dr. Merrick.”) Her husband’s illness “compelled her to become the breadwinner. She conceived the idea that the practice of medicine would be a lucrative calling.” [7] Her colleague Dr. Martha Canfield explained: “While she was full of quiet determination, her gentle, womanly manners disarmed opposition …. She was only like many other women, driven to fight the battle of life alone.”[8]

Barred from regular medical schools, Merrick studied first at a hydropathic institute and graduated in 1851 from the Central Medical College of Rochester, an eclectic institution that leaned toward homeopathy.

Homeopathy had a substantial following in northeast Ohio. Its method – minuscule doses of non-toxic substances – addressed what homeopaths considered the prevalent “overtreatment of patients with drugs about which doctors knew little, for diseases about which they knew less.”  It enlisted distinguished male and female physicians, attracted wealthy clients such as John D. Rockefeller, and built substantial institutions. The Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital opened in 1856, the first organized hospital in Cleveland. This was re-named Huron Street Hospital and eventually Huron Road Hospital. It moved in 1935 to Terrace Road in East Cleveland at the foot of Rockefeller’s Forest Hill estate. The hospital’s prestigious board of trustees included Mark Hanna and Myron R. Herrick. [9]

In 1867, Cleveland’s Western Homeopathic College decided to improve its reputation by refusing to admit women. Merrick and other women then established the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital College for Women; she served on its faculty and as its president until it merged with the original institution in 1871 to form Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital College. (In 1911, the college became Pulte Medical College, allied with Ohio State University, until the latter ended its homeopathic program in 1922.)

Merrick’s own experiences, private and professional, explain her advocacy of woman’s causes, popular and unpopular. Her medical studies in up-state New York, not far from Seneca Falls, the site of the world’s first woman’s rights convention in 1848, may also have inspired her. In 1869, Merrick was elected president of the Cuyahoga County Woman Suffrage Association at a meeting attended by 100 courageous women and a few even more courageous men. The group drew up a constitution, whose preamble echoed the Seneca Falls Declaration: “Believing in the natural equality of the two sexes, and that woman ought to enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as man; [and] that as long as women are denied the elective franchise they suffer a great wrong, … the undersigned agree to unite in an association to be called ‘The Cuyahoga County Woman Suffrage Association.’” This radical step must have put Merrick’s new medical practice at risk.

In further pursuit of equal opportunities for her sex, Merrick, with Dr. Eliza Merrick, her daughter-in-law, and Dr. Martha M. Stone, in 1878 founded the Women’s and Children’s Free Medical and Surgical Dispensary that operated out of the Homeopathic Hospital College.   Its purpose was to provide poor women and children – “the worthy sick poor” – with much-needed medical treatment and to provide female doctors with much-needed clinical experience. The dispensary staff also visited patients’ homes, providing advice on hygiene and nutrition and occasionally even employment. [10]

The only other place that provided medical care to Cleveland’s indigent was the city Infirmary, more commonly referred to as the poorhouse.   It was intentionally an inhospitable place to discourage long-time residence at taxpayers’ expense. It was called the Infirmary because most who entered had been made indigent by their own illness or the illness of the family breadwinner. Inmates were disproportionately women and children. [11] Hence, the necessity of privately funded charitable institutions such as Merrick’s dispensary.

Despite her charitable and political activities, medicine had – as Merrick had hoped – proved to be a lucrative calling. She made money – and lots of it.   “[H]er skill, her serene confidence in herself …, and her dogged persistence triumphed , … and for many years she stood shoulder to shoulder with the best physicians in the city. More than this, she overstepped most of them in a pecuniary way, and her practice, largely, was among a wealthy and exclusive class that gave her an income far up in the thousands.”[12] Merrick was “the mother of all the women physicians at the present,” declared Canfield in 1896. [13]

Dr. Martha Canfield (1845-1916)

Canfield herself was one of Merrick’s “children,” following and building upon Merrick’s pioneering. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1868. She married attorney Harrison Wade Canfield in 1869, and the couple had four children. Medicine was her second career choice. She taught school before entering the Cleveland Homeopathic Hospital College. After her graduation in 1875, she became professor of gynecology at the college, 1890-1897.

Both the practice and the teaching of gynecology were wide open fields for women doctors. Few female patients would welcome an examination by a male doctor: “Many physicians entered practice without ever having seen a baby born.”   By the early twentieth century, when gynecology and obstetrics were finally taught in medical schools, students were urged not to specialize in them because they paid so badly: “That man who undertook to be a pure specialist in this department, in this city, would soon find himself a candidate for the poor house or the State Hospital [for the insane].” [14]

Canfield was an outspoken advocate for women’s causes. In 1886, she addressed the Western Reserve Club on “The Divorce Mania.” The cure for the rising number of divorces, she argued, would be “giving woman more responsibilities as well as more rights.”[15] She also spoke on the “evils of intemperance,”[16] which fell more heavily upon women than men. Another target: “houses of ill fame” that spread disease among innocent women and children as well as guilty men. [17]

She served on the medical staff of the Maternity Hospital, established in 1891.   Like most hospitals and like the dispensary, this was a small, privately funded charitable institution; it was initially homeopathic, intended for an indigent clientele, and specializing in obstetrics. In 1917, it affiliated with the WRU School of Medicine and became an allopathic or regular institution. In 1925, by then the largest maternity facility in Cleveland, the hospital moved to University Circle and became MacDonald House of University Hospitals. Its gradual transformation foreshadowed imminent changes for women physicians and women’s health care. [18]

Canfield succeeded Merrick as the director of the women’s and children’s dispensary in 1900. Its 1909 annual report provides an intimate look into the dispensary’s unique role: “Many times have mothers come contemplating embryonic or fetal destruction, and asking assistance, thinking women physicians more easy to approach on the subject. Each time they left wiser than when they came and nearly always persuaded to follow the safer and more righteous course.” [19] Whatever the doctors’ moral compunctions about abortion, carrying a child to term would certainly have been “safer” than the available methods of self-induced abortion.

Since most regular hospitals did not permit women on staff, the Flexner 1910 report’s mandate for in-house clinical experience created an enormous challenge. The result: Woman’s Hospital, an expansion and institutionalization of Merrick’s dispensary in 1912. The facility had 12 beds and an annual budget of $5,000. It was staffed by both homeopathic and allopathic, male and female doctors to provide women with the required clinical skills in a hospital setting. The hospital served men, women, and children, and unlike the dispensary, it was not free although it took some charity patients. [20]

When Canfield died in 1916, she was memorialized by the local Homeopathic Medical Society: “the medical profession has lost a representative and talented physician and all who knew her will miss the inspiration and helpfulness of her friendship.”[21] In addition to her family, she left behind an institution and a profession that would continue to change for women.

Dr. Lillian Gertrude Towslee (1859-1918)

Towslee succeeded Canfield as president of Woman’s Hospital in 1916. She is an important transitional figure in the history of Cleveland’s women doctors because she trained and taught at regular medical institutions.

Like Canfield, she graduated from Oberlin – its Conservatory of Music – in 1882. (She hosted and entertained at musical social events all her life.) She graduated in 1888 from Wooster University Medical College in Cleveland. (The school later merged with WRU School of Medicine.) She taught briefly at the Wooster University Medical College and also at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ohio Wesleyan University, both regular institutions. Like Canfield, she specialized in gynecology, but also trained as a surgeon. Her regular medical education probably got her accepted into the probably all-male Academy of Medicine of Cleveland, founded in 1902.   [22]

In an 1893 article for the Western Reserve Medical Journal, “Why Women Should Practice Medicine,” she explained her choice of gynecology: this is “woman’s especial sphere…. A woman understands the sensitiveness of a woman and appreciates the suffering she endures better than is possible for a man.… Women are especially adapted to care for the sick.” Yet she was candid about the difficulties that women, certainly including herself, faced: “To gain any standing a woman was obliged to compete with the better class of physicians [probably a reference to her training.] …. She at first met with great opposition. Men did not want her in the profession and placed every obstacle in her path. She has fought her way step by step and won the day,” she concluded optimistically. [23]

Like Merrick and Canfield, Towslee was a political activist. A member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, she turned down an invitation from the Prohibition Party to run as their candidate for Cleveland School Council. [24] (Ohio women could participate in elections for school board candidates.) She was also an enthusiastic suffragist and hostess at a 1902 suffrage convention in Cleveland. The honored guests included Susan B. Anthony. One keynote speaker accurately predicted, “Suffrage would not be a shortcut to the millennium, but it would be a step forward.” [25]

Towslee also hosted the Political Equality League, whose members heard a spirited lecture by suffragist Mrs. Frederic C. Howe on the need to rationalize household drudgery so that women could play a more active public role. [26] According to the local newspaper, however, Towslee was less newsworthy for her professional and political achievements than for a five-week automobile trip that she took with her companion, Mrs. Katherine Arthur, her stepson, George and two young friends in 1911. Of apparent interest to the reading public: the fact that the group camped outside every night and never ate or slept under a roof. Also notable: the unreliable nature of automobiles in 1911. A chauffeur did some of the driving. [27]

Towslee headed Woman’s Hospital only until her death in 1918. Not long enough to leave her personal imprint on the institution, but long enough to give it the respectability of allopathic medicine, which it would need, going forward.

Dr. Merriam Kerruish Stage ( 1870 – 1929)

Stage helped guide Woman’s Hospital through its next phases. Like Towslee, Stage was regularly trained. After graduation from Smith College in 1892, she enrolled at the Wooster University Medical College, finishing her degree in 1895.

She established her practice as a gynecologist and pediatrician and also served on the staff at Cleveland City Hospital in 1895. The facility had only recently separated from the city Infirmary.   Like the poorhouse, City Hospital cared for indigent patients. Nevertheless, the hospital did not employ a full staff of physicians until 1891. [28] Stage may well have been the first female physician on that staff, and her experience there may explain her subsequent belief that the illnesses she treated as a pediatrician could be blamed on poverty. [29]

Stage married attorney Charles W. Stage in 1903, and they had four children. It is not clear whether she returned to her medical practice. Newspaper and other accounts refer to her as “Mrs. Stage”, not “Dr. Kerruish.” But she remained committed to women’s causes and institutions.

She marched proudly in the splendid parade of 10,000 suffragists from 64 Ohio cities and counties in October 1914 as bystanders and marchers anticipated – too optimistically – the passage of an amendment to the state constitution that would enfranchise women. [30] It would be another six years before the passage of the Nineteenth (Woman Suffrage) Amendment, but Stage remained active in politics, joining the local League of Women Voters after its founding in 1920.

She also became a forceful advocate for women and children. She was chosen vice-president of the Women’s Protective Association that pushed for a temporary detention facility for first-time female offenders: “Women Steeped in Crime Mix with Mere Girls at Central Station,” explained the newspaper account.[31] She joined the Consumers League of Ohio, dedicated to improving the living and working conditions of women and children. Reflecting her medical training, she served on the committee that made it “their task to find a way to get this prime necessity of life [milk] to the children.”[32]

Woman’s Hospital in the meantime had expanded its scope, staff, and number of beds, moving to a new building on E. 101st St. in 1918. On its staff were nine female physicians and eleven male physicians; two more women and two men served in the clinic department. In 1926, the hospital had been accredited for the training of interns and had strong financial support from the local community. [33]

Stage, one of those benefactors and a member of the hospital’s all-female, all-physician board of trustees, pushed to enlarge the board by including non-medical men and women, broadening the board’s scope and financial resources. She remained particularly interested in internships for women doctors.[34]

Stage died tragically in the May 1929 fire at the Cleveland Clinic. A memorial fund, established by Mrs. Charles Thwing, raised $14,621 in her memory. The funds were used to make the last payment on Woman’s Hospital’s mortgage in 1934, her final contribution to the institution. [35] 

Dr. Ruth Robishaw Rauschkolb (1900-1981)

Robishaw took women’s health in a new, unprecedented direction, helping women take control of their fertility; she became a pioneer in family planning. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Ohio State University, she also graduated at the top of her class at the WRU School of Medicine in 1923, specializing in dermatology. Although she did an internship at City Hospital, her age and gender prevented her from doing her residency there. [36] She taught in both the pediatric and the dermatology departments of WRU School of Medicine. She practiced dermatology with her husband under his name, Rauschkolb, but used her maiden name in her controversial position as a founder of the clinic of the Cleveland Maternal Health Association, the forerunner of Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland.

According to legend, the clinic was inspired by the suicide of a young woman, pregnant and already overburdened with nine children. Volunteers at a pre-natal clinic, Dorothy Brush and Hortense Shepard, were outraged, but felt powerless because the 1873 Comstock Law made illegal the distribution of birth control technology and information.[37] Violation of the law had jailed many – most famously, Margaret Sanger, the founder of the birth control movement, – and in Cleveland, Ben Reitman, the lover and manager of anarchist Emma Goldman in 1916.

Quite correctly, the birth control movement was associated with the political left and free love.   During the 1920s, however, the movement gained a measure of respectability as it shifted its emphasis away from a woman’s right to control her own body to society’s need to control the size and quality of its population. Cleveland illustrates this transition. In 1923, the Maternal Health Association was formed at the Women’s City Club. Members tried – without success – to get birth control information distributed at local hospitals. [38] In 1928, however, inventor Charles F. Brush donated $500,000 to a foundation dedicated to ending over-population. His goal was eugenics – limiting population growth “which threatens to overcrowd the earth in the not distant future,[39] not liberating women’s sexuality or improving women’s health. Nevertheless, the foundation assisted his daughter-in-law’s Maternal Health Association, which opened its first clinic that year. The clinic had to have a medical staff: Robishaw became the first director, assisted by Rosina Volk, R.N.. Both risked their careers.

Initially the clinic served only married women, seeing 510 clients between 1928-1930. [40] Although the Depression made family limitation an acceptable – and necessary – option, the association still fought “the medical conservatism” of the AMA on birth control in 1933. [41] The clinic continued to expand its clientele and mission, offering marriage counseling in the 1930s and advice on infertility in the 1940s.

Robishaw became the public face of the clinic, as it struggled for respectability, boldly bringing its message to a wide variety of audiences.   “Sex and Marriage” was her topic at the YMCA in May 1936; she also addressed local PTA’s on “The Wanted Child,” and as part of a program on “The Family and Sex Education,’ she spoke on ‘Personal Regimen for Women.”[42] In October, 1940, she addressed the Women’s Association of the Temple on “The Biological Basis of Marriage.”[43]

Robishaw was elected third vice president of the American Medical Women’s Association in 1941. The group demanded equal treatment in the military, as the United States approached entrance into World War II: “… the United States government to date had taken no cognizance of … women physicians in time of war;” the association asked that women “become eligible for the medical reserve corps of the United States Army and Navy with full privileges enjoyed by men physicians.”[44]

Robishaw returned to private practice but remained on the medical advisory board of the Maternal Health Association. The association had affiliated with the national Planned Parenthood organization in 1942 and changed its name to Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland in 1966.

Dr. Sarah Marcus (1894-1985)

Marcus witnessed the affiliation of the small, renegade birth control clinic with this national organization and the demise of the venerable institution created especially for women doctors, Woman’s Hospital.

She graduated from Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University in 1916 but was turned down by its medical school. She went instead to the University of Michigan, graduating in 1920. Many years later when she became the first woman to receive the University of Michigan Distinguished Alumnus Award, Marcus recalled with wry amusement her rejection by Western Reserve. Dean Dr. Frederick C. Waite kept Marcus waiting for her interview “a long time, and finally, since I didn’t leave, I was admitted to his office.” He couldn’t accept her, he explained, because “the school did not have any toilet facilities for women! I promised not to need them.” Waite remained un-persuaded. President Charles Thwing agreed to admit her if she could convince five other women to apply. She couldn’t. Even with legal assistance from Judge Florence Allen, the doors to the medical school remained closed to women. [45] Until two years later when the shortage of male students changed the administration’s mind.

After a residency at Ohio City Hospital in Akron, she joined the outpatient staff at Mount Sinai Hospital as a gynecology-obstetrician in 1923. In 1928, she studied in Vienna with a student of Dr. Sigmund Freud.        Like Robishaw, Marcus was an outreach speaker for the Maternal Health Association to local PTA’s and women’s organizations. She established a clinic on infertility and addressed the American Medical Women’s Association in 1962 on “Medical Aspects of Marriage and the Family.” [46]

Marcus herself married twice and claimed to have had no difficulty combining her career with marriage and motherhood. Two weeks after the birth of her son, she recalled, her own doctor stopped to see her and her new infant. Marcus was out, however, delivering someone else’s baby. She lost track, she said, of the number of children she delivered over the course of her long career. [47]

Like the other women doctors in this study, she dedicated much of her professional life to promoting opportunities for other women.   She established the Women’s Medical Society of Cleveland in 1929, and even more forcefully than Canfield, Towslee, and Stage, Marcus played a leadership role at Woman’s Hospital. She headed its department of obstetrics and gynecology from 1933 to 1950 and served on its board of trustees, as vice-president, 1932-1958, and president, 1958-1971. As board president, she oversaw the expansion of the hospital’s facilities and services. The hospital changed its name to Woman’s General Hospital in 1970, suggesting a broadening of its clientele and services. The board remained predominantly female, but fewer and fewer of the medical staff were women.

Marcus remained optimistic in 1976: “Woman’s Hospital had a mission and that mission is fulfilled. No longer do women need their own hospital for protection from derision and insults or for the opportunity of obtaining good internships and residency.” In striking contrast to her own experience, she concluded, women are accepted everywhere. [48]

The hospital itself, however, faced with mounting competition, dwindling patients, and failure to get a contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Northern Ohio, closed its doors in 1985. Its program for female alcohol and drug abusers, known as Merrick Hall after Cleveland’s pioneer woman doctor, was transferred to Huron Road Hospital – appropriately enough the offspring of the homeopathic institutions that had admitted women more than a century earlier. [49]

The Road Forward

It wasn’t easy for a woman to become a doctor – to risk being childless, as Dr. E. H. Clarke threatened; to arouse “laughter and cat calls” when you applied to medical school as Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell did; to brave a medical school faculty who thought it “inexpedient” for you to be there, as did the first women graduates of WRU School of Medicine; to arouse curiosity worthy of a “circus bill” when you hung up your shingle like Dr. Myra King Merrick; to have to overcome “every obstacle” that men placed in your path, as did Dr. Lillian Gertrude Towslee; to be denied admission to medical school because “the school did not have any toilet facilities for women,” like Dr. Sarah Marcus. But these women did it.

It still isn’t easy for a woman to become a doctor; the road is still long and hard. But if it is less hard today, it is partly because these women who traveled it decades ago rose to the challenges and fought for themselves and for the women who followed them on the roads less traveled. *

Marian J. Morton is a professor emeritus at John Carroll University. She received her B.A. in classics from Smith College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in American studies from Case Western University. She is the author of And Sin No More: Social Policy and Unwed Mothers in Cleveland, 1855–1990; Emma Goldman and the American Left: “Nowhere at Home”; The Terrors of Ideological Politics: Liberal Historians in a Conservative Mood; Women in Cleveland: An Illustrated History and Cleveland Heights: The Making of an Urban Suburb.

* This essay is dedicated to Dr. Hannah Z. Kooper-Kamp, who is traveling that road, and to her husband, my grandson, James W. Garrett IV, who travels with her all the way.

[1] Regina Markell Morantz -Sanchez, Sympathy and Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 49.

[2] Mary Roth Walsh, Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply: Sexual Barriers in the Medical Profession, 1835-1975 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1977), 180.

[3] Morantz-Sanchez, 87.

[4] . The medical schools that admitted blacks were reduced from 10 to three in the wake of the report:

[5] Frederick Clayton Waite, Western Reserve University Centennial History of the School of Medicine (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1945), 126-127.

[6] Adelbert College of Western Reserve ended coeducation at almost exactly the same time . Hiram C. Hayden became president of the college in November 1887 and terminated the admission of women shortly afterwards. A separate undergraduate College for Women was established in 1888, but no separate medical school for women was forthcoming.

[7] Cleveland Plain Dealer (CPD), June 28, 1896: 3.

[8] CPD, June 28, 1896:3.

[9] Victor C. Laughlin, “Homeopathy” in Kent L. Brown, ed., Medicine in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, 1810-1976 (Cleveland : The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland, 1977), 46-51; the quote is on page 47.

[10] Glen Jenkins, “Women Physicians and Woman’s General Hospital’ in Brown, ed., 55.

[11] Marian J. Morton, And Sin No More: Social Policy and Unwed Mothers in Cleveland, 1855-1990 (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1993), 24-33.

[12] CPD, November 11, 1899: 3.

[13]   CPD, June 27, 1896: 5.

[14]   Burdett Wylie, “Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Cleveland Hospital Obstetric Society” in Brown, ed., 232-273; the quote is on p. 239. Wylie does not mention one woman physician in this essay.

[15] CPD, November 18, 1886: 5.

[16]   CPD, November 9, 1893: 8.

[17]   CPD, May 15, 1894: 6.

[18] Morton, 111-112

[19] Quoted in Jenkins, 56.

[20] Jenkins, 59.

[21] CPD, September 6, 1916: 7.


[23] Mrs. W.A. Ingham, Women of Cleveland and Their Work: Philanthropic, Educational, Literary, Medical, and Artistic   (Cleveland, O: W.A. Ingham, 1893), 326.

[24]   CPD, February 7, 1898: 1.

[25] CPD, October 9, 1902: 5.

[26] CPD, February 15, 1907: 7.

[27] CPD, September 24, 1911: 60.

[28]   Morton, 111-112.

[29] http://

[30]   Virginia Clark Abbott, The History of Woman Suffrage and the League of Women Voters in Cuyahoga County, 1911-1945 (Cleveland: n.p., c . 1949), 33.

[31] CPD, October 14, 1917: 10.

[32] CPD, October 12, 1919: 57.

[33] Jenkins, 62-63.

[34] Jenkins, 61-62.

[35] Jenkins, 64.


[37] David R. Weir, “”Planned Parenthood, 1923-1976” in Brown, ed., 274.

[38] Weir, 274-275.

[39]   CPD, June 21, 1928: 3.


[41]   CPD, October 7, 1933: 4.

[42]   CPD, January 9, 1939: 29; and March 19, 1939: 37.

[43]   CPD, October 29, 1940: 14.

[44] CPD, June 3, 1941: 15.

[45] Quoted in Jenkins, 67.

[46] CPD, November 18, 1962: 13.

[47] CPD, May 13, 1985: 47.

[48]   Quoted in Jenkins, 68-69.

[49] Woman’s General was only one of many small independent hospitals that failed or merged in the last decades of the twentieth century because of financial problems. Huron Road Hospital itself in 1984 had merged with Hillcrest and Euclid General Hospitals in an unsuccessful effort to remain financially viable. All were absorbed into the Cleveland Clinic, which closed the Huron Road facility in 2011. Two hospitals with beginnings similar to Woman’s General also closed. Forest City, established in 1939 so that black doctors, unwelcome elsewhere, could receive training and treat patients, closed in 1978. Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1913 and intended for Jewish doctors and patients, closed in 2000.

Shaker Library Levy May 2018 LWV-Shaker report

The Shaker Library Levy forum is here:

Shaker Heights Library Levy May, 2018
LWV-Shaker Recommendation

The Shaker Chapter of the League of Women Voters has endorsed the Shaker Library levy that will be on the May 8, 2018 primary ballot.

The summary of our endorsement below:
The link to Fact Sheet is here

The full report is below:
The link to Report is here

The Ballot Language

Proposed Tax Levy (Additional)
Shaker Heights Public Library
A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage.

An additional tax for the benefit of the Shaker Heights Public Library for the purpose of current expenses at a rate not exceeding 1.9 mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to 19 cents for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for a continuing period of time, commencing in 2018, first due in calendar year 2019.

Propuesta para Recaudación de Impuestos (Adicional)
Biblioteca Pública de Shaker Heights

Se requiere un voto afirmativo por mayoría para su aprobación.

Un impuesto adicional que beneficiará a la Biblioteca Pública de Shaker Heights con el fin de cubrir gastos actuales a una tasa que no exceda los 1.9 milésimos por cada dólar de valoración, lo cual representa 19 centavos por cada cien dólares de valoración, por un período continuado de tiempo, comenzando en el 2018, con su primer vencimiento en el año calendario del 2019.

“Consumer Scams. How to spot, avoid & respond” a forum on March 8, 2018

The flyer is here

The preview for the forum is here

The video is here

Thursday March 8, 2018 6:30-8pm
Consumer Scams. How to spot, avoid & respond
moderated by
Teresa Dixon-Murray, Reporter/ Banking & Personal Finance, The Plain Dealer

Larissa Bungo, Assistant Regional Director, Federal Trade Commission

Sheryl Harris, Director, Consumer Affairs, Cuyahoga County

Sue McConnell, President, Better Business Bureau-Cleveland

A discussion with experts at the national and local level about ways to protect yourself from common consumer scams and how to respond if they do strike.

Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Lakewood Public Library Main Branch
15425 Detroit Ave. Lakewood OH 44107

Teresa Dixon-Murray, The Plain Dealer

Cosponsored by
Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Dealer plus Heights, Lakewood, Shaker and Cuyahoga County Library Systems.

Corporate Sponsor: First Interstate, Ltd.

“Redistricting and Gerrymandering in America and Ohio” a forum on March 20, 2018

The flyer is here

The preview is here

The forum recap is here

The forum video is here

Tuesday March 20, 2018 7-8:30pm
Redistricting and Gerrymandering in America and Ohio:
the effort to reform how districts are drawn

moderated by Rich Exner,, Data Reporter

David Daley,
National political writer, senior fellow for FairVote, the author of      “Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy” (W.W. Norton/Liveright) and a frequent lecturer and media source about gerrymandering. He is the former editor-in-chief of, and the former CEO and publisher of the Connecticut News Project.

Gregory T.  Moore, Executive Director, NAACP National Voter Fund

Catherine Turcer, Director, Common Cause Ohio, and Co-leader of Fair Districts Ohio

This forum will look at the Redistricting issue from a national and local perspective with experts in each area on the panel. We’ll discuss the latest information and the expectations for 2018, the 2020+ census and more

Cost: Free & Open to the Public
CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning Facility
25700 Science Park Dr #100 Beachwood OH 44122

Rich Exner,

Cosponsored by
Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Dealer plus Heights, Lakewood, Shaker and Cuyahoga County Library Systems.

Corporate sponsor: First Interstate, Ltd.

Akron Event March 21, click here

Akron flyer is here

“Opportunity Corridor —will the opportunity be realized?” a forum on February 21, 2018

The flyer is here

RSVP is here

The preview is here

The video is here:

Wednesday February 21, 2018 7-8:30pm

Opportunity Corridor —will the opportunity be realized?
moderated by Steven Litt Plain Dealer, Art, Architecture, Urban Design and City Planning Reporter
The Opportunity Corridor provides a connection between west and east sides; through neighborhoods that would benefit from economic renewal. It has been condemned, extolled, and now is becoming a reality. But what will it do in reality?

Chris Alvarado, Executive Director, Slavic Village Development

Freddy L. Collier, Director, City Planning Commission, City of Cleveland

Blaine A. Griffin. Cleveland Ward 6 Councilperson

Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc

Denise VanLeer, Executive Director, Fairfax Renaissance

Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Tinkham Veale University Center, CWRU Campus
11038 Bellflower Road, Cleveland OH 44106

Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer (photo by Lizzie Litt)

Cosponsored by
Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Dealer plus Heights, Lakewood, Shaker and Cuyahoga County Library Systems.

Corporate sponsor: First Interstate, Ltd.

Tom L. Johnson Aggregation

1 Tom Johnson: Progressive Reform for the Common Man (Video)

2 Cleveland: “The City on a Hill” 1901-1909

3 A Couple of Giants: Mark Hanna and Tom Johnson

4 Tom L. Johnson, America’s Best Mayor (documentary)

5 A Ten Year’s War by Frederic Howe

6 Tom L. Johnson by Robert H. Bremner

7 Confessions of a Reformer by Frederic Clemson Howe

8 Cleveland’s Johnson by Eugene C. Murdock

9 The Double Life of Tom L. Johnson

10 Cleveland’s Johnson: Elected Mayor by Eugene C. Murdock

11 “My Story” The Autobiography of Tom L. Johnson

12. Biography of Tom L. Johnson by Carl Lorenz

13. Tom Johnson’s Obituary in American Magazine

14. Tom Johnson and Henry George

15. “Cleveland’s Johnson: The Cabinet” by Eugene Murdock


Frank C. Cain, Cleveland Heights, and the Suburban Vision by Marian J. Morton

Frank C. Cain, Cleveland Heights, and the Suburban Vision
by Marian J. Morton

The pdf is here
Handsome, outgoing, and outspoken, Cleveland Heights Mayor Frank C. Cain became a prominent booster for the early twentieth-century vision of suburbia: an escape from the city – its congestion, unhealthy pollution, visible poverty, and uncongenial neighbors – to green spaces and tree-lined streets of single-family homes for nicer people. Cain’s was hardly an original vision of suburbia: it was widely shared by ambitious realtors and upwardly mobile suburbanites. But as the acknowledged leader of local suburban officials, Cain defined and defended his vision; as the long-time, powerful elected mayor of the biggest suburb around, Cain tried to turn the vision into reality.

In 1900, Cain and his wife moved to a relatively isolated southwest corner of East Cleveland Township. A year later, this became Cleveland Heights, a country village on the verge of suburbanization as landowners enthusiastically began to turn their orchards, farms, and quarries into residential developments with names that suggested their elevated social status. In 1909, when Cain purchased his first home on Radnor (then Florence) Road in the Mayfield Heights allotment, just east of Coventry Road, a realtor glowingly described its suburban charms: “Mayfield Heights … Country Life in Cleveland …. Delightful surroundings, … high above the level of the lake where the air is pure. GOOD neighbors, sensible restrictions, nearness to schools, churches, and stores of all kinds.” [1] (Restrictions referred to the size of the lots, the setbacks from the street, and the residential-only use of the properties.) Fifteen years later, Cain moved to Compton Road, another ideal suburban location and presumably a step up the social ladder: “Compton Heights …. Our lots are all large …; our restrictions insure only the most desirable class of residents;” “COMPTON HEIGHTS … FINE TREES… MANY FINE HOMES. “ [2]

1900-1919: Rising Star

Cain quickly became involved in local affairs, joining the Men’s Civic Club, the movers and shakers of this village of about 1,500. The club was formed at the Presbyterian church (now Forest Hill Church Presbyterian) that first met just down the street from Cain’s home on Radnor. He probably joined the church too. Also nearby were a small Methodist church (now Church of the Saviour) at Superior and Hampshire Roads and a mid-nineteenth-century one-room schoolhouse at Superior and Euclid Heights Boulevard. Radnor was only a five-minute walk to the city hall on Mayfield Road, which remained the center of Cleveland Heights politics and Cain’s public life. The southern boundary of John D. Rockefeller’s estate was even closer.

Just as quickly, Cain went into politics. He later claimed that he ran for village council in 1909 because he felt the village was falling short of his ideal although since it had been in existence only eight years, he hadn’t given it much of a chance. Cain took his seat as councilman in 1910 and was elected mayor in 1914, a post he would hold until 1946.

Cain earned his living in the grain and feed shipping business, but like other village trustees, he was a player – although a relatively minor one – in the village’s booming real estate market. Banker J.W.G. Cowles, contractor J.M. Spence, and realtor William Phare were wealthier and bought and sold more property than Cain. Their activities apparently raised no questions of impropriety, and Cain’s purchase of lots on Mayfield just east of city hall was noted approvingly in the local paper. [3] These became the location of a Kroger’s, a Fisher Foods, an A and P, a Marshall Drug, and several smaller businesses and apartments, located on the second floors of the buildings in the 1920s. In 1958, he sold the properties to the city of Cleveland Heights, and they became annexes to City Hall.

During Cain’s first years as mayor, visionary developers built upscale neighborhoods along the streetcar tracks up Fairmount and Euclid Heights Boulevards: Patrick Calhoun’s Euclid Heights, B.R. Deming’s Euclid Golf, and the Van Sweringens’ Shaker Heights subdivision (now known as the Shaker Farm Historic District). Along the Cedar Road streetcar line, close to St. Ann Church, Catholic families established a beachhead in this predominantly Protestant community. Along the Mayfield street car line, developments with grand names – like Compton Heights – were laid out. They were joined by other small developments: Minor Heights, Grant Deming’s Forest Hill, and dozens of others.

Cain’s responsibilities included preserving and enhancing these neighborhoods: for example, by excluding undesirable people. In 1915, he accused Cuyahoga County of “dumping” vagrants and “professional hobos” in his suburb. Local newspapers learned that Cain could always be counted on for a pungent quote. [4]

A suburb also needed green spaces. Cain very probably was the driving force behind the Men’s Civic Club’s push for a park system. In 1915, residents passed a $100,000 bond issue to buy the land that became Cumberland and Cain Parks. Most of the land surrounded a long, steep ravine, a branch of Dugway Brook, that ran from Taylor Road to Mayfield. It would be difficult to build homes on the land, but a park would enhance the value of neighboring developments, such as Mayfield Heights. The northern end of the park was just southeast across Mayfield from Cain’s 1915 properties.

Cain and the other village trustees wanted the first park to be named “Roosevelt Park in everlasting memory of our late and beloved ex-president Theodore Roosevelt;” they also hoped it would contain a monument to him. [5] The monument never got built, and this became Cumberland Park, named for the road that constituted the park’s eastern boundary. But Cain’s choice indicated his preference for a moderately reformist Republicanism that would soon take political shape.

Cain also began his long battle to maintain suburban independence. Cleveland, its industries and commerce booming and its population growing, continued to expand its boundaries east, annexing the village of Glenville in 1905 and Collinwood in 1910. New suburban villages like Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, and Euclid, feared they might be next. In 1915, at a symposium sponsored by the Civic League of Cleveland, Cleveland Mayor Newton D. Baker and County Commissioner Pierce D. Metzger suggested that the county government be abolished and that the “81 political subdivisions” be merged into “one mighty municipality with a highly centralized government.” The result would be more efficient and less costly governance, a refrain that would be repeated endlessly by advocates of regional government over the next decades. “Can we induce the suburban cities and villages … to lose their corporate identity for the good of the greater community?” league leaders asked. The answer was no. Cain’s response at this point was guarded: Cleveland Heights, “the decoration that adorns the plateau to the east of Cleveland,” was “not ready to come into the city until the village is completed. “[6] His position would harden over the years as Cleveland Heights grew and established its own suburban identity.

1920s: Suburban Success Story 

Cleveland Heights became a city in 1921, and its suburban identity was firmly established in the next decade. Its population skyrocketed from 15,261 in 1920 to 50,945 in 1930. (Cain predicted it would reach 100,000 by 1940.) Developers built thousands of new homes in popular contemporary styles (most were casually described as “colonial”) – so many homes that the suburb was almost built out by the end of the decade. Public dollars built a handsome new city hall, a library, and built or added onto six elementary schools, two junior high schools, and a splendid high school. Thriving commercial districts sprang up along the streetcar lines at Cedar-Fairmount, Cedar-Lee, and Coventry Roads.

Cain served on the committee that drew up a new charter for Cleveland Heights. It gave the city “home rule,” which meant greater autonomy from the state and new powers to sell bonds for public projects and let contracts for public services. Reflecting current ideas about political reform, the charter provided that the chief administrator would be the city manager, chosen for his expertise, not his political connections. The mayor would be chosen by the council, not directly by the voters; all council members would be elected at large. These provisions were intended to avoid the political corruption, rancor, and inefficiency associated with urban politics.

Council also drew up a zoning code in 1921. Developers of early neighborhoods like Mayfield and Compton Heights included restrictions on land use. Yet these were dependent on the good taste and good will of developers and didn’t have the force of law. A uniform zoning code would achieve council’s goal: a suburb of primarily single-family homes, no industry, and minimal commerce, limited to main thoroughfares. (East Cleveland enacted a zoning code in 1919; Bay Village in 1920; Lakewood in 1922, and Euclid in 1923; Cleveland not until 1929.[7]) Cleveland Heights already contained many duplexes and apartment buildings and occasional commercial uses too close to residential neighborhoods, but the code would limit their expansion. So strongly did council support zoning that it voted funds to support the village of Euclid when its zoning code was challenged before the Supreme Court; Euclid v. Ambler Realty (1926) validated Euclid’s code in specific and zoning in general, which subsequently became an important tool for city planning and for directly excluding undesirable land uses and indirectly excluding undesirable residents.

Council members elected Cain mayor year after year. Like Cain, they were well-to-do –but not fabulously wealthy – businessmen and professionals like lawyer Robert F. Denison or Dr. R.E. Ruedy; most, like Cain, had held office before the new charter. They stood for business-like, efficient government, low taxes, and no public debt. So did their occasional, always unsuccessful, challengers throughout the decade. All were Republicans, as were most Cleveland Heights voters. In its endorsement of the incumbents in the 1925 council race, the Cleveland Heights Dispatch praised their “efficient and disinterested service.”[8] The Cleveland Heights Press added this ringing endorsement of Cain: “It is undoubtedly true that Mayor Cain is a sort of ringleader, a dominant figure in the council…. The re-election of Cain is especially important because he IS a LEADER …. Not only in his own community, but in metropolitan affairs.”[9]

Already well known in his home town, Cain became a Cleveland celebrity. He was elected president of the City Club, making headlines for refusing to introduce invited speaker Eugene Debs, the Socialist recently released from federal prison for his opposition to the United States entrance into World War I. Cain did not, however, resign from the club after it invited Debs, as did several other members. [10] Debs declined and spoke instead at Public Auditorium. In July, Cain’s caricature appeared on the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s front page with this obscure caption: “The president of the City Club worried about that hat check that’s lost itself in one of his pockets.” [11] So well-known was he that readers apparently recognized the incident although it was not described in that or subsequent editions of the paper.   In September, the paper gleefully reported that the mayor, an “irate and husky individual,” had single-handedly delivered to the Cleveland Heights police station a young man who had sped by him on Mayfield Road.[12]

Cain became the vigorous, visible spokesman for his own and other new suburbs, doing frequent battle on their behalf with the Cleveland Railway Company. “We’re out for blood,” he exclaimed in 1923, demanding that the company provide better service to the 24,000 Cleveland Heights residents who rode downtown “packed in [street]cars like cattle.”[13] He continued to push for the extension of the street car lines farther east on Mayfield, Cedar, and Fairmount and for bus lines on Lee, Taylor and Noble Roads. In 1924, Cain was chosen president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Council, composed of representatives of Cleveland and the larger suburbs to cooperate on matters of shared interest, especially transportation. In 1925, officials from Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, Cleveland, East Cleveland and other suburbs met to iron out their difficulties with the Cleveland Railway Company. All recognized that good public transportation was absolutely imperative for suburban growth. However, although Cain fumed and threatened to withhold its franchise, the company did not extend its Cleveland Heights streetcar lines until 1929.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, Cain also became an outspoken advocate for suburban autonomy: “the recognized leader when, for any reason, the suburbs combined to fight the City of Cleveland … a potent enemy of proposals to limit the independence of suburban government through a metropolitan plan.” [14] His perennial foe was the Civic League. Cain shared its goal of businesslike, efficient government with low taxes. The league also endorsed city manager government, with which Cleveland experimented from 1924 to 1930. The league’s plans for regional government took various forms over the years, and supporters repeatedly reassured suburbs that a measure of regional cooperation would not cost them their independence. Nevertheless, Cain and other opponents always described these efforts as “mergers” or “annexations,” hinting at a take-over by malevolent political forces from the inner-city.

In 1925, Cain declared the league’s most recent effort at “annexation” a “dead issue.” Cleveland Heights residents were well satisfied with their municipal services, he explained. [15] A 1928 “borough plan” was even more emphatically rejected by Cain and other suburban mayors: “Our city is an ideal dwelling place for high-grade, law-abiding, respectable, decent people,” Cain claimed. “We have no Sunday picture shows. We either stop or drive out all that is bad from the city. Our city is clean, well-paved, orderly, and immensely rich.” [16] The league’s efforts, supported by the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the League of Women Voters, persisted throughout the 1930s. Cain and other suburbs resisted.

Cain also took a vigorous stand against water rate hikes proposed by Cleveland in 1930. As president of the new Local Self-Government League, Cain called a secret meeting of the seven largest suburbs at Cleveland Heights City Hall (somehow the Cleveland Plain Dealer got wind of it). He got the credit and the blame for this organized opposition: Cain was the “organizer of the suburban bund [which] declared that Cleveland owes [his] suburb hundreds of thousands” of dollars.[17] Cain achieved a partial victory in June 1931 when the city and the suburbs reached a temporary compromise on the rate hike. The conflict raged on into the 1940s; Cain in 1940 threatened that Cleveland Heights would build its own water plant.[18]

Cleveland Heights was not only to be independent but sober and Sabbath-observant: alcohol and Sunday commerce had no place in Cain’s suburb. One of the village’s first actions had been to legislate against the spread of saloons, and most of the suburb’s property deeds prohibited the sale or manufacture of liquor on the premises. In 1931, Cain maintained that enforcing Prohibition was not a problem in his city. “We had a sensible policy,” he explained; no raiding squads, no breaking down of doors. “We just [drove out] of the city the big liquor dealers.” Nevertheless, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported a few unhappy occasions when Cleveland Heights residents broke the law. Cleveland Heights police were accused of stealing confiscated liquor in 1921.[19] In 1927, police seized a still and 15 gallons of whiskey from a home on Inglewood Road.[20]

Among the suburb’s pharmacies, bakeries, delicatessens, groceries, and clothing stores were two prospering movie theaters: the Heights (1921) and the Cedar-Lee (1926). Cain wanted them closed on Sunday – along with other commercial establishments. In April 1922, local police stopped the show at the Heights Theater, arresting the manager and two employees. “Booing and catcalls were squelched when a detail of police cleared the audience from the theater.” [21]   (The arrest foreshadowed the similar fate of the same theater and the arrest of its manager, Nico Jacobellis, in 1959, on the grounds that he was showing pornography, the film “Les Amants.” He was vindicated in Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964.) In 1931, Cain bowed to pressure from the six other council members and 9,000 petitioners, and the movie theaters opened on Sunday. The Cleveland Plain Dealer chortled, suggesting that Cain was losing his political grip. [22]

This small political loss had been more than offset by Cain’s greatest success: the largest, most ambitious residential development in Cleveland Heights history on the site of Rockefeller’s Forest Hill estate. Cain had courted Rockefeller for years, playing golf and socializing with him on his summer visits from New York City. Rockefeller sold his estate – in both East Cleveland, where his residence was actually located, and Cleveland Heights – to his son John Jr. in 1923. By the mid-1920s, the Rockefeller interests planned a $60 million residential development; it would be named Forest Hill to keep alive the memory of Cleveland Heights’ most famous almost-resident. Even better, the development “will add millions to the tax duplicate of Cleveland Heights,” frothed the Cleveland Heights Press: “Vision of Mayor Cain Responsible for Huge Project,” cried the front page headlines. [23] But these best-laid plans ran into snags. The city wanted to run Monticello Boulevard and a streetcar through the development. The Rockefeller interests balked. The Rockefeller interests wanted to build apartment houses along Lee Road; the city balked. By the time these difficulties were ironed out and the first homes were built in 1930 – in East Cleveland, not Cleveland Heights -, the Great Depression had begun. (In the post-World War II decades, the rest of the homes, the apartments, and the boulevard did get built although Monticello carried automobiles, not streetcars.]

Under Seige, 1931 – 1946

In 1928, the Cleveland Plain Dealer headlined Cain’s credo: “Cleveland Heights Mayor Believes Suburb Travels Best Alone.”[24] But traveling “alone” proved impossible during the Great Depression – even in middle-class Cleveland Heights.  Residents lost jobs; the Rockefeller lots stood empty of houses, property taxes went unpaid, housing construction came to a standstill; hundreds of homes went into foreclosure. Cleveland Heights was “immensely rich” no longer.

Like other cities, Cleveland Heights initially tried to assist its own residents, establishing in April 1931, a spring clean-up project that urged residents to hire their unemployed neighbors: “Work to Do; Men to Do It.” A bond issue passed in November 1932 allowed the city to put unemployed men to work on small public works projects; in January 1933, 165 men were so employed, receiving $3.20 a day; they were allowed only two weeks’ work each month. [25] Work relief was never enough, and in any case, was available only to able-bodied men. Directed by City Manager Harry Canfield, the city supplied direct relief – food and clothing – to its own needy residents; the case work was done by Associated Charities and the Jewish Social Service Bureau. Private organizations like the Women’s Civic Club also provided food, clothing, fuel, and medical assistance to neighbors down on their luck.

Cleveland Heights became one of the last cities in the county to tighten its belt. In summer 1932, the city slashed the salaries of all employees 20 percent, including those on work relief. Cain attributed this – probably correctly – to the city’s long-standing habit of careful spending. But, he warned, “Rigid economy will be necessary” in the future.[26]

Rigid economy wasn’t enough, and in January 1933, City Council asked for $60,000 for direct relief from Cuyahoga County; Cain explained, “it’s got to the point where we do have some needy families out here who have got to be taken care of.”[27] In May, the situation was critical. According to Canfield, the city was assisting 345 families with either work or direct relief, and funds were running desperately low.[28] In February 1934, the city turned over its work relief programs to the Cuyahoga County Relief Administration and continued to assist Cleveland Heights residents who didn’t qualify for the county program.

Ultimately, federal funds provided by the Democrats’ New Deal saved this Republican suburb. Cain himself abhorred Franklin D. Roosevelt. According to his daughters, whenever the President appeared in the newsreels at the local theater, Cain “would stand up, turn his back to the screen and say in a loud voice, ‘ I don’t want to see that damn fool’” and leave the building. [29] But he and Canfield realized that partisan politics had to take a back seat to economic necessity, and with the help of U.S. Representative Chester Bolton, the city got millions of dollars from the Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for dozens of street improvements like the widening and landscaping of Cedar Glen, the painting of school interiors, and parks. Especially parks.

In the depths of this Depression, Cain received his greatest honor: a park named for him. In 1934, Dr. Dina Rees Evans, the drama teacher at Cleveland Heights High, staged a production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the foot of the slope at the Taylor end of the city’s first park, still un-improved and un-named. Evans wisely suggested to Cain that the park be given his name. Unemployed veterans provided by the county Soldiers and Sailors Relief Commission cleared the underbrush and culverted Dugway Brook. Cain may have paid them out of his own pocket. But much of the work was paid for by the WPA that put Cleveland Heights men to work building the theater and landscaping.

A low point for Cain: an attempted assassination in September 1938 by an angry former employee of the city’s street cleaning department, who fired three shots at him at the end of a city council meeting. Cain was safe; Canfield took the bullet; council members wrestled the assailant to the floor.

Cain’s long-time relationship with the Rockefellers paid off again in 1938 when John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave to East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights 235 acres for a public park (65 acres in Cleveland Heights), which was to encourage the development of the still vacant streets of his Forest Hill allotment. Again, the federal government came to the rescue when the WPA built the park’s scenic pathways and the splendid bridge over Forest Hill Boulevard.

As Cain clearly recognized, Cleveland Heights couldn’t survive this economic disaster without help from Washington DC.  And any lingering thoughts about traveling “alone” were ended by World War II: both the mayor and his city threw themselves behind the country and the war effort.

When the United States formally declared war on December 8, 1941, Cleveland Heights residents were prepared. Many had already responded to the peacetime draft of September 1940; thousands more men and women volunteered or were drafted after Pearl Harbor. Their names – 5,832 of them, more than one of every ten residents – are inscribed on the War Memorial at the foot of Cumberland Park[30]; 191 gold stars commemorate those who didn’t come back. [31]

Women’s organizations like the Women’s Civic Club, prepared by the Depression emergency, rolled bandages and collected clothes and organized block club meetings to inform and energize neighbors to collect scrap metal, save food, and buy war stamps. Residents bought millions of dollars of war bonds. The high school organized recruitment drives; the shop classes trained defense workers. Cain Park Theater hosted a ‘Victory Sing” in August 1942. [32]

Mayor Cain also directed the city’s extensive Civil Defense activities. In July 1942, a civil defense drill involved “1,466 air wardens, 552 firemen, 74 medical aides, 23 [persons] as rescue squads, 33 at the report center, 16 regular police and 25 regular firemen.”[33] This added responsibility may explain why in 1941, he got a raise from $4800 to $6,000; council members earned $600. The state examiner forced him to return the raise. [34]

As the country approached the war, federal spending put people back to work; economic stability returned. Despite the Depression, Cleveland Heights’ population had grown almost 10 percent from 1930 to 1940, to just under 55,000, making it the 11th largest city in the state. But the Depression and then wartime shortages of manpower and materials made it difficult to maintain city services. Garbage workers struck in August 1942; Cain and Canfield refused to recognize the workers’ union and tried to ignore the strike by hiring private companies to pick up trash. In January 1945, a city worker dumped eight to ten truckloads of raw garbage into the Bluestone quarry. Neighbors complained that their calls to City Hall went unanswered. The scandal made the front pages of both the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Heights Press. [35]

Growing dissatisfaction with the political status quo was voiced by the reliably Republican Heights Press, which had in previous years endorsed Cain and his slate of candidates. Now, week after week, the weekly pounded away at them, referring to his administration as a “dictatorship” that made all decisions behind closed doors; the council acted “like a bunch of sheep,” accommodating the mayor’s every wish while Cain himself was mostly absent from City Hall.[36] The paper even intimated that a “Second Gangland Murder” in Cleveland Heights might be blamed on Cain’s “absenteeism.”[37]

In May 1945, voters turned down a tax levy that Cain had endorsed, citing the need for expanded police and fire departments. This was one of his few political defeats. (Sunday movies in 1931 and rejection of a tax proposal in 1936 were two others). [38] Cain announced that he would not be a candidate in November.  A slate of opposition candidates, backed by the Good Government League and calling for more commercial development, lost at the polls to the incumbents, Cain’s long-time fellow councilmen. Although he was not on the ballot, his policies and practices triumphed.

Cain presided over his last council meeting in January 1946, ending his 37 years in office, 25 of them as the undisputed political leader of Cleveland Heights. The Heights Press took a parting shot, accusing him of forcing city employees to contribute to the memorial stone and plaque that mark the Lee Road entrance to Cain Park.[39]

Looking Forward

After his retirement as mayor, Cain stayed almost out of the political limelight. In 1943, he had opposed a Jewish rabbinical college proposed for Patrick Calhoun’s enormous mansion on Cedar Road (now the site of Cedar Hill Baptist Church). The proposal foreshadowed two challenges the city would soon face: an influx of Jewish residents that would reshape its demographic and political make-up and the transformation of some of the suburb’s mansions into institutions that threatened the city’s residential character. In 1948, he appeared before council to oppose a proposed Veterans’ Administration hospital on Overlook Road, another incursion into another elite neighborhood. Both proposals were defeated. There is no public record of his opposition to the very controversial building of a shopping mall on the site of John L. Severance’s estate, barely a quarter of a mile from Cain’s own home. These were problems Cain left for his successors. [40]

When Cain reached his 90th birthday in 1967, Cleveland Heights had reached its peak population of almost 62,000. He accurately predicted two more challenges his city faced: the growing use of the automobile and the city’s imminent racial integration. “Suburbs like Cleveland Heights are still the best place to raise a family. Of course, the automobile changed things …. But I still don’t believe there is a necessity for more freeways like the Lee and Clark freeways.” Both proposed to cut through Cleveland Heights’ neighborhoods and parks. He continued, “As the years go by, it’s evident that whites and Negroes are getting along better. They’ll learn to live with one another eventually.”[41] It turned out to be easier to defeat the freeways than racism; the racial integration of Cain’s suburb was accompanied by occasional violence and significant social turmoil. [42]

Cain died six months later. His obituary listed his many accomplishments: the city’s charter and its strict zoning code, its public transportation, the park that bears his name, and his long fight for suburban independence. [43] Although often challenged, Cain’s vision for Cleveland Heights has mostly survived: its parks, despite the city’s financial ups and downs; the commercial and residential neighborhoods established by the zoning code (the glaring exception is Severance Town Center); the city manager plan created by the charter although it is now under study. The tradition of stubborn independence has slowly eroded: residents use the regional transportation and sewer systems; the city participates in the First Suburbs Consortium and the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council and only recently surrendered partial control of its water department to Cleveland. But Cain would certainly recognize important things about today’s Cleveland Heights, the suburb he moved to in 1900 and worked for decades to create: its “schools, churches, and stores of all kinds,” its “FINE TREES [and]…. MANY FINE HOMES,” its “delightful surroundings [and] GOOD neighbors.”

[1] Cleveland Plain Dealer (PD), August 4, 1909: 11.

[2] PD, July 9, 1905: 20; PD, November 1, 1914: 30.

[3] PD, December 15, 1916: 22.

[4] PD, June 27, 1915: 12.

[5] Cleveland Heights Dispatch, February 3, 1919: 3.

[6] PD, February 21, 1915: 11.


[8] Cleveland Heights Dispatch, October 22, 1925: 4.

[9] Cleveland Heights Press, October 6, 1925: 1.

[10]   PD, January 10, 1923: 1.

[11] PD, July 2, 1923: 1.

[12] PD, September 6, 1923: 1.

[13] Cleveland Heights Dispatch, November 22, 1923: 2.

[14] PD, November 8, 1967: 47.

[15] Cleveland Heights Press, December 17, 1925: 1.

[16] PD, June 18, 1928: 9.

[17] PD, June 20, 1928: 1.

[18] PD. January 29, 1940: 4.

[19] PD, August 10, 1921: 1.

[20] PD, December 4, 1927: 1.

[21] PD, April 24, 1922: 1.

[22] PD, August 5, 1931: 10.

[23] Cleveland Heights Press, April 17, 1925: 1.

[24] PD, June 18, 1928: 9.

[25] Marian J. Morton, Cleveland Heights: The Making of an Urban Suburb (Charleston, SC, Arcadia Publishing 2002), 70. (Urban Suburb)

[26]   PD, July 20, 1932: 11.

[27]   PD, January 4, 1933: 3.

[28] PD, May 2, 1933: 12.

[29]   Suzanne Ringler Jones, editor, In Our day: Cleveland Heights, Its People, Its Places, Its Past, (Cleveland Heights: Heights Community Congress, 1986), 47.

[30]   PD, May 31, 1944. The number, 5,400, often used earlier by myself and others, is cited in the PD, November 15, 1943, long before the war was over when the death toll was not complete.

[31]   Urban Suburb, 82.

[32]   Urban Suburb, 80.

[33] Cleveland Heights Press, July 31, 1942: 1.

[34] Heights Press, July 20, 1944: 2.

[35] Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 4, 1945: 1; Heights Press, January 4, 1945: 1.

[36]   Heights Press, November 9, 1944: 2.

[37]   Heights Press, November 8, 1945: 3.

[38] PD, May 30, 1945: 10.

[39] Heights Press, November 20, 1945: 4.

[40]   Urban Suburb, 85-122.

[41] PD, May 6, 1967: 5.

[42]   Urban Suburb, 123-144.

[43] PD, November 8, 1967: 47.

Marian J. Morton is professor emeritus at John Carroll University. She received her B.A. in classics from Smith College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in American studies from Case Western University. She is the author of And Sin No More: Social Policy and Unwed Mothers in Cleveland, 1855–1990; Emma Goldman and the American Left: “Nowhere at Home”; The Terrors of Ideological Politics: Liberal Historians in a Conservative Mood; Women in Cleveland: An Illustrated History and Cleveland Heights: The Making of an Urban Suburb.