February 3, 1821
Died: May 31, 1910
Place of Birth:
Elizabeth Blackwell is credited as being the first western world female doctor of modern times.
Her parents had a large family of eight and believed all their children, males and females, should be equally educated.
When her father's business was destroyed in 1832, the family decided to move to United States.
Blackwell's father set up a business in New York which failed and the family undertook a move to Ohio.
Her father became sick on the way to Ohio and soon passed away after they had settled there.
From 1845 to 1847, Blackwell taught school but was not satisfied in that field and had her first feelings of activism.
She moved to Philadelphia and decided to enter a medical school, however, Blackwell found most medical schools refused to take a woman applicant.
Blackwell, after being voted on for acceptance by all the student body, gained entrance to New York's Geneva College.
She graduated with honors from this medical school becoming the first woman to do so.
In 1849, Blackwell moved to Paris seeking training to become a surgeon but no hospital would accept her.
Blackwell was forced to take a job as a mid-wife but an accident in handling a chemical resulted in the loss of one eye.
Without full vision she could no longer pursue training to become a surgeon so she moved to London, England, accepting a job as an intern in a local hospital.
After a year of internship, Blackwell moved back to New York where, being a woman MD, she had considerable difficulty renting an office to open her practice.
However, she did open a clinic in 1853 treating women and children and was joined a few years later by her sister, who had also become a doctor, and another female doctor.
The clinic was very successful and the three doctors expanded it into a hospital known as the
New York Infirmary for Women and Children
Blackwell's reputation as a competent physician grew along with the number of patients receiving help at the infirmary.
After the Civil War, she was instrumental in opening a medical school for women.
In 1969, Blackwell returned to England where she continued to write medical publications and express her views on such subjects as sex education, sanitation, and moral education.
Elizabeth Blackwell remained living in England where she opened the
London School of Medicine for Women
For detailed research and more information, check out the following:
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Changing the Face of Medicine
Western New York Suffrogists
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Last Updated: January 22, 2017
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