Dr. E. Irene Boardman overcame poverty, polio, and prejudice against women. She was the second woman to practice medicine in New Haven Couty, CT. Despite a lame left leg she was a pioneering school physician in the city of New Haven for 30 years and the health officer for her home town of Prospect, CT for 21 years
She was born in Great Barrington, MA, graduated from Nyack Academy, Nyack, NY on a scholarship, received full scholarships to attend Smith College and was the first student in the history of Smith to finish four years of study in three. At Smith, she was one of the organizers of the Suffrage Club and worked actively in Springfield, MA for the right of women to vote. Sees was member of the Women's Party during the final push for the vote nationally. She taught on the Smith College faculty in the Zoology Department for one year to raise money for medical school. She graduated from Cornell Medical School in 1920 and interned at the Women’s Hospital in Philadelphia, PA.
After several years of private practice in New Haveri, she became the School Physician for the city and led in the eradication of smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid fever. She also was the medical examiner for the New Haven Normal School, which later became New Haven Teachers College, and now is Southern CT State University. As the health officer of the Town of Prospect, she introduced planning and zoning to be town. She administered to Salk Anti-Polio vaccine to hundreds of children and adults both in Prospect and New Haven, giving her great personal satisfaction that polio would not be the crippling disease for the next generation that she had experienced.
Besides her work in public health, she was a state and national leader for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a Regent for the DAR , President of CT Huguenot Society, and an active member of the American Association or University Women.
In her local Prospect Congregational Church, she was a church school teacher for many years, and served on the building committee, raising the majority of funds for the new tall white steeple.
She raised seven children, and her family was so proud of her leadership that we developed the E. Irene Boardman Foundation to continue her charitable work in religious education, missions, community improvement, and scholarships for women and girls. The Community Room of the Prospect Public Library is named in her memory, since the Boardman Foundation provided the initial funds for two years to build the new library.
She died at the age of 91, never letting her lame leg stop her from her goals and was a wonderful sole model for her family and the community.