Fraser, Frieda Helen

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Fraser, Frieda Helen

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Frieda Helen Fraser was born in Toronto on 30 August, 1899. She was educated at home, 67 Madison Avenue, until the age of fifteen and then spent three years at Havergal College. She entered University College in the fall of 1917, receiving her BA in 1922, having specialized in physics and biology. She went on to medical school, receiving her MB three years later. In the summer of 1925 she moved to New York where she took her internship at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. She then moved to Philadelphia to complete her post-doctoral training in chest diseases under Dr. Muriel McPhedran at the Henry Phipps Institute, University of Pennsylvania.

Frieda returned to Toronto in 1928 to accept the positions of demonstrator in the Department of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine in the School of Hygiene and research associate in the Connaught Laboratories. Her slow rise through the ranks was typical for a woman of her time, though she advanced further than most. In 1929 her appointment as a demonstrator in hygiene was made part-time while she concentrated more on her research at the Connaught. In 1933 she was promoted to lecturer (part-time) in the Department of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine and full-time the following year. In 1936 she became an assistant professor and an associate professorship followed after the outbreak of the Second World War. Her appointment as a full professor came in
1949 and in 1955 she was appointed professor of microbiology. Dr. Fraser retired in 1965.

Trained as a bacteriologist, she worked closely with her brother for much of her career. After his death in 1954, she was involved in a special research project to develop an antigen for tuberculosis. She taught preventive medicine in the Bachelor of
Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programmes for more than thirty years.

Quiet and shy, Dr. Fraser was an amateur artist of some skill, and her correspondence, research notes, and stray pieces of paper attest to her talent. She was also an avid gardener. She shared the linguistic skills of her family, being fluent in German and French.

She died in a nursing home in Burlington, Ontario on 29 July, 1994, shortly after she was forced to leave her beloved home.


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