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This historical marker honors Dr. Amelia Keller (1871-1943), who, in 1908, became the first woman to join the faculty at the Indiana University School of Medicine. A specialist in gynecology and pediatrics, Keller also operated a private medical practice in Indianapolis for more than 40 years. In addition to her medical work, she was also an ardent suffragist and women's rights advocate. Her leadership roles included serving as the first president of the Women's Franchise League of Indiana, the first vice president of the Indiana Federation of Clubs, as as the first president of the Woman's Rotary Club of Indianapolis, and as president of the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society.

Dr. Amelia Keller (1871-1943) was the first woman on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Medicine. She was also a leading women's rights activist and suffragist in Indiana. She served as vice president and president of a number of organizations and operated a medical practice in Indianapolis for more than forty years.

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The historical marker is located on the Indiana University campus next to the Ruth Lilly Medical Library.

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Keller was born on January 12, 1871 in Cleveland Ohio but grew up in Indianapolis. She never moved anywhere else. After graduating high school, she attended the Woman's Medical College of Chicago then the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons, which was located in Indianapolis, where she earned her medical degree in 1893. In 1899 she married her husband Eugene Buehler.

Keller became an associate professor of diseases of children at Central College in 1906. Two years later, Central College merged with the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she served on the faculty until 1919. Throughout her career, Keller lectured frequently on social hygiene, child welfare, housing and other issues. She was also the family doctor of Governor James P. Goodrich.

In 1909, Keller and another activist, Grace Julia Clark, established the Woman's School League which worked to elect the first woman to the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners. The effort was successful; the principal of the Indianapolis Normal School, Mary E. Nicholson, won the election in 1910, becoming the first woman on the board. In 1911, the League changed its name to the Woman's Franchise League to reflect its new goal of achieving women's suffrage in Indiana. Over the next few years, the League established 100 branches around the state, forming a network of activists who lobbied slate legislators to give women the right to vote. This effort achieved some success in 1917 when the state legislature passed a bill granting women the right to vote for presidential electors, municipal officials, and Constitutional convention delegates (other organizations participated in the effort as well). However, the state Supreme Court struck down the bill saying that it violated in the state's constitution. When the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was up for ratification in Indiana, the League continued to lobby legislators. Its work was critical to the General Assembly in ratifying the amendment in 1920.

During the last two decades or so of her life, Keller was an active in the Republican party, often giving speeches on behalf of candidates and participating in women's organizations affiliated with the party. She also became an active member of clubs, serving as the first president of the aforementioned Woman's Rotary Club of Indianapolis, which was established in 1919, and as the president of the Indiana Council of Women. She died on January 1, 1943.

"Dr. Amelia Keller." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed July 5, 2023.

"Keller, Amelia R." Jane Adams Project. Accessed July 5, 2023.

Stanley, Susan. "Amelia R. Keller, MD: First woman faculty member of IU School of Medicine, Advocate, and Civic Leader."

Wright, Martha. "Amelia R. Keller." Encyclopedia Indianapolis. 1994. Last Updated 2021.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

The Historical Marker Database