Dr. Ida Joe Brooks was the first woman to practice medicine in Arkansas. In 1920, she became the first woman to be a party nominee for a statewide office. She was the Republican nominee for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. However, due to her gender, the state Attorney General would not let her name appear on the ballot. (Even though this was the first election in which women could vote.)
In 1877, Dr. Brooks, became the first woman to head a state teachers’ organization. She was president of the Arkansas Educational Association. After teaching for several years, she wanted to attend medical school. She had to do so out of state, because the Arkansas medical school would not admit her based on her gender. In 1914, she ended up becoming the first female faculty member of what is now UAMS.
During World War I, she attempted to enlist in military service. When she was denied, due to her gender, she was commissioned in the US Public Health Service and served at Camp Pike specializing in psychiatry. After the war, she was health director for the Little Rock School District.