Hilda Crosby Standish

Hilda Crosby Standish

Induction Category:
Science & Health

Born: 1902

Died: 2005

Inducted: 1994

Town: Hartford

As the medical director of Connecticut’s first birth control clinic in 1935, Hilda Crosby Standish established herself as a pioneer in the field of sex education and family planning. Her long and distinguished career spanned several decades, featuring teaching appointments, trusteeships and lecturing for Planned Parenthood and other organizations.

Hilda Crosby was born and raised in Hartford, Conn., and attended the Northwest School, Hartford Public High School, Wellesley College and the Cornell Medical College. After a two-year rotating internship at the Philadelphia General Hospital and a year's residence at the St. Louise Maternity Hospital, she received a five-year appointment in 1932 to teach obstetrics in the Women's Christian Medical College and the Margaret Williamson Hospital of Shanghai, China.

Just two years later, Crosby was forced to return from China due to illness in her family. She was recruited by Katharine Houghton Hepburn to run the Maternal Health Center in Hartford in July 1935 and agreed to become its medical director. At the time, it was illegal to operate a birth control clinic or to disseminate information about birth control. The Hartford clinic served the community from its location at 100 Retreat Avenue until it was forced to close in 1940.

In 1936, Crosby married E. Myles Standish of Wethersfield, a dermatologist practicing in Hartford, and together they had five children. Dr. Hilda Standish lectured extensively over the years on family planning and testified in the legislature on many occasions in an attempt to change the law that made the use of contraceptives illegal. She also lectured to parents, students and pre-marital groups on sex education.

She continued teaching and lecturing until her retirement in 1969. Dr. Standish participated in numerous community activities, served as a trustee of the Hartford College for Women and Wellesley College and was the recipient of many honors and awards.

In 1983, the Hartford Branch of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut named its clinic after Dr. Standish in recognition of her work in this area. She contributed to the clinic and later donated generously of her memorabilia to its library.

During This Time
1946 - 1965: Women’s Activism in Conservative Times