Thursday, July 3, 2008
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) was an abolitionist, women's rights activist, and the first female doctor in the United States. She was the first woman to graduate from medical school (M.D.) and a pioneer in educating women in medicine.
Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821 in Bristol, England. In 1832, the family immigrated to the United States.
Blackwell attended Geneva Medical College in New York. On January 11, 1849, she became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, graduating at the top of her class. In 1857 Elizabeth along with her sister Emily and Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, founded their own infirmary, named the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. During the Civil War, Elizabeth trained many women to be nurses and sent them to the Union Army.
After the war, Elizabeth had time, in 1868, to establish a Women's Medical College at the Infirmary to train women, physicians, and doctors. In 1869 she left her sister Emily in charge of the College and returned to England. There, with Florence Nightingale, she opened the Women's Medical College. Blackwell taught at the newly created London School of Medicine for Women and accepted a chair in gynecology. She was also the first female physician and doctor in the UK Medical Register.