Matilda Kleinschmidt

Matilda Kleinschmidt20s, 1930s, illegaldoctor, chicago, illinois

SUMMARY: On September 21, 1930, 20-year-old Matilda Kleinschmidt died after an abortion attributed to Chicago physician James Murney Nicholson.

On September 9, 1930, 20-year-old telephone operator Matilda (or Mathilde) C. Kleinschmidt underwent a criminal abortion, believed to have been performed in the office of Dr. James Murney Nicholson.

When she took ill, her boyfriend told her that he would call in another doctor to care for her. Matilda insisted, “Another doctor won[‘]t look at me. He won[‘]t take the case.”

Matilda died on September 21. On September 22, Nicholson was held by the coroner for murder. John C. Ross was held as an accessory. Nicholson was indicted for felony murder in Matilda’s death.

Matilda’s abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.

Who Performed Abortions.jpg

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1930s. For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion


  • Homicide in Chicago Interactive
  • Leslie Reagan, “The Worst of Times”
  • “Recommend Doctor Be Held for Death of Woman,” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 23, 1930