Women You Should Know – Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell (1826-1910) was born in England on February 3, 1826. Her family moved to the United States when Elizabeth was a young girl. In 1849, she became the first woman to graduate from medical school and thus paved the way for future women to enter the field of medicine. Elizabeth traveled a difficult road in deciding to study medicine. Women of Elizabeth’s era were not accepted as medical professionals. All of the schools that Elizabeth applied to rejected her. When Geneva Medical College in New York received her application, they decided to let the students decide whether Elizabeth should be admitted. The students were in agreement only because they believed this was a practical joke. When the truth was discovered and the students realized they had a new classmate and she was female, they were appalled. However, eventually Elizabeth was respected for her remarkable ability and determination. After graduating with a medical degree in 1849, Elizabeth was not able to obtain employment in any medical establishment. Therefore, she set up a private practice in her home and began seeing women and children. Elizabeth and her sister, who was also a doctor, were acquainted with Florence Nightingale. The three women successfully collaborated and opened a Women’s Medical College, which was part of a New York infirmary that the two sisters had established in 1857. Years later, Elizabeth returned to England and founded the London School of Medicine for Women. In 1875, Elizabeth was appointed Professor of Gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Children, a position she held until her retirement. She died on May 31, 1910. Many years later (1973) Elizabeth Blackwell was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Source for additional information
Women’s History: Elizabeth Blackwell – http://womenshistory.about.com/library/bio/blbio_blackwell_eliz.htm