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Women in Medicine and Science at Upstate

This guide provides information on female pioneers associated with Upstate and its predecessor institutions who left lasting impacts on medicine and science. Please check back regularly as we will continue to add influential women to this guide.

Miriam Swift MD

Miriam "Mernie" Swift was born in Norway, Maine to Robert and Miriam Bruce in 1917. She attended high school at the Northfield Seminary in Massachusetts and seeing as she was good at science, her father encouraged her to consider a career in medicine. She attended the Syracuse University College of Medicine and graduated in 1943, specializing in pediatrics. She also met her husband Edward Swift at medical school. After they graduated early in 1943, Miriam completed her residency at the Children's Hospital of Columbia Medical Center in New York City. Her husband Ed enlisted in the Army Medical Corps for the duration of World War II, and after the war they settled in Syracuse.  

Miriam ran a public practice through community clinics. She worked with various organizations including Syracuse University Health Service & College of Human Development, the Syracuse City school district, and the Family Medical Center.  As director of the FMC, she oversaw a comprehensive program that offered medical and counseling services to families from Onondaga County social services. She also served on the board of the Community Foundation where she chaired the Child Care Initiative that focused on helping home day care centers develop their programs and become licensed. 

She was a strong advocate for gender equality through her work with YWCA, Girls Inc., and was also a member of the Women's Fund of CNY. In 1972, she was honored as a Post Standard Woman of Achievement in medicine and later a Lifetime Woman of Achievement. Upstate named her a distinguished Alumna at her 50th reunion and presented her with the 'gold-headed cane' award. Her name is also included in the Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls. She passed away on July 10, 2014.


Resources for Miriam Swift MD