Rachelle Yarros, MD (1869-1946)
Rachelle Slobindsky Yarros immigrated to the United States from Russia as a teenager. As a member of a revolutionist political party, she always feared being arrested by the Czar’s police. In the US, she worked in a sweatshop before enrolling as the first woman to enter in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Boston. She finished medical school at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, then moved to Chicago to complete her residency at Michael Reese Hospital. Yarros spent the next 40 years on faculty at University of Illinois in women’s health. She was a resident of Hull House, the famous social settlement that nurtured leaders in social welfare. She was a leader in the birth control movement, and she challenged the attitudes, policies, and practices that denied women access to birth control information and devices. She established the first birth control clinics throughout the city of Chicago; she was a dedicated campaigner for sex education for women.
In 1914, Dr. Yarros helped found the American Social Hygiene Association,which today is known as the American Sexual Health Association. She also founded and directed the Illinois Birth Control League.
In 1923, Dr. Yarros opened the second birth control clinic in the United States and by 1930, Chicago had 8 birth control clinics throughout the city, more than any other American city.