Zatae Longsdorff Straw (1866-1955)

Zatae Longsdorff Straw, 1887

Zatae Longsdorff was born on April 16, 1866, the second of six children of William Henry and Lydia R. Haverstick Longsdorff of Centerville, Pennsylvania, a few miles southwest of Carlisle. William Henry, a physician, was a Dickinson graduate of the class of 1856. Zatae’s brother, Harold, graduated from the College in 1879. Zatae continued the family tradition by graduating with the class of 1887, becoming the first female graduate of the College. She obtained a master's degree in cursu from Dickinson in 1890. Sisters Hildegarde (class of 1888), Jessica (class of 1891), and Persis (class of 1894) all attended Dickinson in turn.

After graduation, Zatae pursued medical instruction at Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, earning her degree in 1890. She served a year as an intern at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, and then relocated to a Native American reservation in Blackfoot, Idaho where she became the resident physician for a short time.

A. Gale Straw and Zatae Longsdorf were married November 12, 1891, shortly after Zatae returned to the East. The couple had four children, and Zatae later resumed her medical practice at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire. A. Gale Straw died in 1926 after a long illness following his surgical service in the First World War.

In her later years, Longsdorff became active in New Hampshire politics. In 1924, she was elected to the New Hampshire State House of Representatives. In 1926 she presided over the New Hampshire State Republican Convention and was elected to a second term in the state House of Representatives. Serving on the Committee on Public Health, she became its chairperson during this second term; she also served on the Committee on Fisheries and Game, being an avid hunter and fisher herself. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the New Hampshire State Senate in 1928, but Zatae nonetheless continued to be politically active. She ultimately became the first woman president of the Manchester (N.H.) Medical Association in 1923. For a lifetime of accomplishments, Zatae was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree by her alma mater in 1937, the 50th anniversary of her graduation from the College.

Zatae Longsdorff Straw died on October 1, 1955 at her home in Manchester.

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Dickinson College Archives
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