Elizabeth Blackwell MD

“It is well worth the efforts of a life-time to have attained knowledge which justifies an attack on the root of all evil . . . which asserts that because forms of evil have always existed in society, therefore they must always exist . . .”

“A blank wall of social and professional antagonism faces the woman physician that forms a situation of singular and painful loneliness, leaving her without support, respect or professional counsel.”

.–Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D.

museum of medicine & health

EBlackwell1905

Elizabeth Blackwell, Joseph Stanley Kozlowski, 1905. Syracuse University Medical School Collection.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman to gain a medical degree (MD) from Geneva College in New York State in 1849. She came from a liberal non-conformist Bristol family who had immigrated to America in 1832. She rejected marriage and decided to study medicine after a dying friend pleaded for a woman doctor. She was rejected by twelve colleges and only accepted at Geneva College as an ‘experiment’. Even after she qualified she was barred from the state medical society and any institutional post. Rejected by every hospital she applied to for surgical training, she decided to open her own dispensary which later became the New York Infirmary for Women & Children (1857), the first hospital founded and run by women. She was joined by her sister Dr Emily Blackwell (1826-1910) and Dr Marie Zakrzewska (1829-1902) who had…

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