Interview, May 21, 2007

Duke University. Medical Center. Archives.
Scope and content:

This oral history interview was conducted with Dr. Hilda P. Willett on May 21, 2007 by Jessica Roseberry as part of the Women in Duke Medicine Oral History Exhibit
Duration: 01:53:21
Hilda P. Willett discusses her background; her siblings; her parents' emphasis on education; the lack of funding for higher education; scholarship; Georgia State College for Women; Dr. James Stokes's encouragement for further education; other career choices for women (teaching); the lack of finances for graduate school; Dr. David Tillerson (D. T.) Smith (chair of Duke Department of Microbiology); doing tuberculosis research for Dr. Smith; attaining the first PhD in the Department of Microbiology (1949); her faculty position in the department; the advancement of male members of department to full professorship; the resistance by male members of department that she become a full professor; Dr. Smith's protest of this unfair situation; the appointment, promotion, and tenure committee within her department; her own research on the tubercle bacillus; her discovery of why isoniazid worked; the new chairman of department; her small laboratory; her ceasing of research due to wishes of new chair; the directorship of graduate studies for the department; the awareness of lower salaries for women; women in clinical departments aware of this discrepancy; Mary Poston's role in the department; Mary Poston as the only female in the department; Dr. Willett as the only female in the department; name changes to the department; focus changes of the department due to scientific advancements; Dr. Joe Nevins; Mary Poston's clinical laboratory; having more women on main campus than in the medical center; her husband as a private practitioner in the community; her husband's help with the household; hiring help to take care of her children; her husband's practice in Raleigh; her commute; teaching; assigning lectures as course director; her own social strengths and weaknesses; research funded by the National Tuberculosis Association; presenting at conferences; her fear of flying; elaboration on her own research; Dr. Wolfgang Joklik's reliance on her; the character of Dr. Smith; Dr. Norman Conant; her major contributions in research; editorial contributions to editions of "Zinsser's Microbiology"; the largeness of the task of serving as co-editor of "Zinsser's Microbiology"; her parents; working during her college years; and working with graduate students. The transcription of this interview was made possible by a grant from the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation. Includes 2 master CDs, 2 use CDs, and 1 transcript.


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Collection restrictions:


Use & permissions:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.