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Maffett, Minnie Lee (1882–1964)

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell Biography Entry

Minnie Lee Maffett, physician and surgeon, was born in Falls County, Texas, on September 9, 1882, the daughter of Samuel Benton and Alice Clementine (Keller) Maffett. After attending public schools in Falls County, she graduated in 1902 from Sam Houston State Teachers College (now Sam Houston State University). While working on this degree she taught in public schools, and in 1906 she became principal of a ward school in Cleburne. From 1907 to 1910 she served as principal at the State Orphan Home High School in Corsicana. Maffett graduated from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1914. After an internship at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, she established a practice as an abdominal surgeon in Dallas in 1915. She opened the health center at Southern Methodist University in 1915 and oversaw its growth to recognition by the American Medical Association; she resigned as its director in 1949. From 1926 to 1943 she served as associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Baylor University College of Medicine in Dallas. When the Baylor facility moved to Houston in 1943, Dr. Maffett became professor of clinical gynecology at the Southwestern Medical Foundation in Dallas (now part of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas). She later was a consultant in gynecology at Southwestern. She served on the staffs of several Dallas-area hospitals, including Baylor, Parkland, and Medical Arts. She completed postgraduate work at the University of Chicago, additional training in urology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and studies at the New York Post Graduate Hospital.

Maffett served in 1919–20 as the first president of the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs and later (1939–44) became president of its national affiliate. Through the federation a fellowship named for Maffett was established in the 1950s to award grants to women for study in medical science. Other groups in which she was active included the American Medical Association, Southern Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Women's Association, American College of Surgeons, and Dallas County Medical Society. Maffett also was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional organization for women teachers, and the University Women's Club of Southern Methodist University.

During World War II she served on the National Civilian Advisory Committee to the War Department, chairing the subcommittee that studied health and recreation in the Women's Army Corps. In 1951 she was appointed to a panel by the State Department to study women's clubs in West Germany. She served as an advisor for health workshops for the Pan Pacific and Southeast Asian Women's Association in Japan and for the International Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs in South Africa. Her primary international interest, however, was China. Maffett was a member of the Chinese Relief Region and the board of directors of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, when she led the national Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs to assist Chinese nurses in 1941. The financial-aid program to improve educational opportunities and facilities available for Chinese nurses assisted nurses in mainland China through 1949 and nurses in Taiwan after 1950. In 1964 a nurses' and students' residence, for which the FBPWC raised more than $100,000, was constructed at the National Defense Medical Center in Taipei, Taiwan, and named for Minnie Maffett. She also received the rosette of the Order of the Brilliant Star of the Free Chinese government. She attended dedication ceremonies for the new facility bearing her name in Taiwan on April 15, 1964. While returning from Taiwan she became ill and died in Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 26, 1964. Funeral services were held on May 30 at Highland Park Methodist Church, Dallas, where she was a member. She was survived by four sisters and several nieces and nephews.

Minnie Lee Maffett Papers, Archives, National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Washington. Texas State Journal of Medicine 60 (August 1964). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Health and Medicine
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners
  • Women

Time Periods:

  • World War II


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Maffett, Minnie Lee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 21, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995
November 30, 2019

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: