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The Courtship of Two Doctors
A 1930s Love Story of Letters,
Hope & Healing
Before the era of emails and texts, editor Martha Fitzgerald’s parents courted by
pen and paper, sharing their passion
for the healing profession.
In 1937, medical students began a two-
Alice and Joe met during a summer fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and dreamed of returning there for postgraduate training. It was the waning days of the Depression, and war was beginning to rumble overseas. Grave illness and career setbacks shook their confidence, but the two decided to face their uncertain future together, trusting in each other and the relationship they built letter by letter.
Compiled from a private collection of nearly 800 letters by daughter Martha Fitzgerald,
The Courtship of Two Doctors recreates the medical era before antibiotics, when health
workers were at risk of serious infection, and vividly illustrates the 1930s social
barriers challenging two-
“I hope to inspire new generations of servant healers, encourage young couples to cherish one another, and generate new interest in personal family history,” said author and editor Fitzgerald. “I encourage readers to consider anew what treasures lie in your attics or cedar chests—diaries, scrapbooks, wartime correspondence, or other letters lovingly preserved by parents or grandparents. Consider donating them to a local historical archive. But first, spend time with these treasures and rediscover your forbears.” Fitzgerald has placed an annotated edition of the complete courtship collection in medical archives in Louisiana, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
Courtship has received early praise in medical and literary circles. “What a delight
it is to savor this book of letters,” said novelist Judy Christie, author of the
Green series. According to Chancellor Robert A. Barish M.D. of LSU Health Shreveport,
this is “must” reading for physicians in training: “A lesson from those who came
before that great obstacles can be overcome and all will be worth it in the end.”
Proceeds from book sales benefit the medical school Dr. Joe co-
Martha Fitzgerald, an award-