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DR. MARIANNA BERTOLA

Dr. Marianna Bertola, also known as Dr. Crusade, was an Italian-American teacher, obstetrician, political activist and social reformer who lived in San Francisco. She delivered more than three thousand babies in her career: "Child welfare has been my big life work", she used to say. It was something of an understatement. Her father was a miner who became one of the pioneer grape growers of Contra Costa County. Marianna attended school in Martinez, California, and began a career in education that led her to become the principal of her school, although her dream was to study medicine. She kept studying and in 1899 she graduated from Cooper Medical College in San Francisco.

She truly effected social welfare reforms: her first major work was called the "California Plan" for the improvement and expansion of county hospitals. Every county hospital was to be equipped with both a children's ward and a maternity ward. People of moderate means were the chief benefiters: “The very poor and the very rich are always taken care of," said Dr. Bertola, "it is the man of small income who usually bears the brunt of things."

Second important project was the home on Baker Street for self-supporting working girls and old ladies of the Native Daughters of the Golden West. Dr. Bertola had been chairman of that organization for thirty years.

Third, her presidency of the Travelers' Aid Society. "The greatest work in the world, after all, is teaching others to think for themselves," she declared.

She is still remembered for her tireless medical care to those injured in the 1906 earthquake.

In November of 1909, she founded the Vittoria Colonna Club for Italian Women. The club quickly established a "Settlement House" in a tenement apartment donated by one of its members where classes helped immigrant children and parents adjust to life in America.

Woman's Vigilant Committee

“When, at a time in the annals of civic history, the hearts of San Francisco mothers were touched with sorrowing pity and their dignities aroused over outrages committed by a number of gangsters, there arose in the community a concerted group of women determined to protect the young girls of the community. Like the Vigilant Committee of early days, these women, were assembled with haste, determined to find out ways and means for the prevention of similar things.

This committee of women led by the valiant leader. Dr. Marianna Bertola, met in the assembly hall of the Phelan Building, November, 1921, and then and there formed themselves into a Woman's Vigilant Committee.

Keeping vigilance was but one phase of their noble work. Protecting young girls, with the strong hope and ardent zeal of preventing the repetition of any such blot on the escutcheons of the city, prompted their gatherings.

After a time, the meetings so grew in interest and size, that larger quarters were necessary. So the California Club at 1750 Clay Street was offered to them and there the Woman's Vigilant Committee meet, as they have for many months past.

All of the meetings are devoted to careful consideration of each case or circumstance as the various sub-commit- tees report. All of the considerations are weighed in tender concern with authentic deliberations and advices from those in authority as the most efficient means of meeting each situation. Whatever touches the life of the girl or the boy, whatever enters into the home-life of the community, whatever affects the welfare of the common- wealth, in a civic, a social or a moral way — these engage the strict attention of the Woman's Vigilant Committee.

 

BERTOLA ASSEMBLY OF CALIFORNIA WOMEN

The Bertola Assembly of California Women was founded by Mrs. Emma R. O'Donnell.

In tribute to Dr. Mariana Bertola, past-grand president of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, this organization of California women was named by the founder. Mrs. M. Lawrence Nelson is president of the Bertola Assembly of California, Mrs. George Springer is the treasurer; Mrs. John Boege, recording secretary and Mrs. William H. Urmy is the corresponding secretary.

Dr. Mariana Bertola is the Honorary President of the Bertola Assembly of California Women."

 

SOURCES:

WHO'S WHO AMONG THE WOMEN OF CALIFORNIA - An Annual Devoted To The Representative Women of California With An Authoritative Review of Their Activities In Civic Social, Athletic, Philanthropic, Art and Music, Literary & Dramatic Circles - Security Publishing Co., San Francisco/Los Angeles, 1922

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