Elizabeth Blackwell - First Woman Medical Graduate, Timeline and Childhood

Home  ›  American  ›  Elizabeth BlackwellFebruary 3, 1821180 views

0.0 based on 0 rates

Elizabeth Blackwell's Personal Details

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first American woman to receive a medical degree

InformationDetail
BirthdayFebruary 3, 1821
Died onMay 31, 1910
NationalityAmerican
FamousFirst Woman Medical Graduate, Feminists, Physicians
SiblingsAnna, Ellen, Emily, George, Henry, Howard, Marian, Samuel
Universities
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Bedford College
  • St Bartholomew's Hospital
  • Geneva Medical
Birth PlaceBristol
ReligionQuaker
GenderFemale
FatherSamuel Blackwell
MotherHannah Blackwell
Sun SignAquarius
Born inBristol
Famous asFirst Woman Medical Graduate
Died at Age89

// Famous First Woman Medical Graduate

Elizabeth Blackwell's photo

Who is Elizabeth Blackwell?

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school, and also the first woman on the British medical register. She was ardently anti-abortion and pro-woman, choosing to enter the field of medicine partly because she was disgusted that the term “female physician” was applied to abortionists. As a child she was exposed to liberal thinking as the Blackwell family believed in movements to abolish slavery and enfranchise women. Most of the colleges she applied rejected her two reasons: she was a woman and therefore incapable of handling a medical profession or because they felt threatened by her competitive spirit. She was eventually accepted by Geneva Medical College in New York. On completion of her course, she went to Paris to gain some practice there. She returned to America to broaden her dispensary as the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister Emily, America’s second female physician, and their friend Dr. Marie Zakrzewska. The Infirmary was the first American hospital staffed by women, providing medical training and experience for women doctors as well as care for the poor. Blackwell returned to England permanently, where she established a private practice, helped organize the National Health Society, and became professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women.

// Famous Physicians

Childhood & Early Life

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in a house on Dickson Street in Bristol, England, to Samuel Blackwell, a sugar refiner and his wife Hannah (Lane) Blackwell. She was third of the nine siblings.

Her childhood was a happy one as her father had liberal views on childrearing and believed that every child should be given opportunity for development of his or her talent.

In 1832, the family relocated to New York City, in the United States where Samuel joined Samuel Hanson Cox's congregation, and become rather active in reform circles and supported the abolition of slavery.

A fire in his sugar refinery destroyed it and Samuel decided to shift to Cincinnati, but he died soon after in 1838 leaving a widow, nine children and great deal of debt.

The sisters started a school, The Cincinnati English and French Academy for Young Ladies, to help tide over their financial situation. Elizabeth’ interest in Unitarian Church was not acceptable to the conservative Cincinnati community.

Career

By 1845, she decided on a medical career and in order to save money for medical school expense, she taught music at an academy in Asheville, North Carolina, and lodged with Rev. John Dickson, a physician turned clergyman.

In 1847, she left for Philadelphia and New York, to explore the opportunities for medical study. In Philadelphia, she boarded with Dr. William Elder, and studied anatomy privately but her applications were rejected.

In 1847, Blackwell was accepted as a medical student by Geneva Medical College, New York quite accidentally as students thought it was a joke when they were asked to vote on her admission.

When Dr. James Webster, the anatomy professor asked her to absent herself during lectures on reproduction, her response made Webster to admit her to the lecture and the subject was no longer considered vulgar.

In between her two terms at Geneva, she returned to Philadelphia, and applied for medical positions to gain clinical experience. The Guardians of the Poor that administered Blockley Almshouse, permitted her, reluctantly.

Appalled by the syphilitic ward and those afflicted with typhus at Blockwell, she wrote her graduating thesis on the topic of typhus and linked physical health with socio-moral stability.

In January 1849, she became the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States. When the dean, Dr. Charles Lee, conferred her degree, he stood up and bowed to her.

In June 1849, she enrolled at La Maternite; in Paris not as physician but as a student midwife. She met Dr. Hippolyte Blot, a young resident physician and profited from his mentorship.

In November 1849, she accidently spurted some contaminated solution into her eye while treating an infant, which resulted in an infection and she lost her left eye and all the hope of becoming a surgeon.

In 1851, she returned to the U.S to establish her own practice in New York and later established a small dispensary near Tompkins Square

In 1857, she along with her sister Emily now a qualified doctor, and Dr. Zakrzewska, expanded the dispensary into the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children.

In 1858, under a clause in the Medical Act 1858 she was able to become the first woman in England to have her name entered on the General Medical Council's medical register.

Following a rift with Emily, she left for England and in 1874 opened the London School of Medicine for Women, with the primary goal of preparing women for the licensing exam of Apothecaries Hall.

At the school, she lost much of her authority to Jex-Blake, and was relegated to being a lecturer in midwifery. She resigned this position and retired from her medical career in 1877.

Major Works

In 1852, she published ‘The Laws of Life with Special Reference to the Physical Education of Girls’. The book was about the physical and mental development of girls and with the preparation of young women for motherhood.

She campaigned against the Contagious Diseases Acts and her 1878 essay, ‘Counsel to Parents on the Moral Education of their Children’, was unequivocal on prostitution and marriage, arguing against the Contagious Diseases Acts.

Personal Life & Legacy

Elizabeth Blackwell never married for she prized her independence and rejected many suitors. In 1856, she adopted Katherine "Kitty" Barry, an orphan and raised her as a half-servant, half-daughter.

She was well connected and exchanged letters with Lady Byron about women’s rights issues and was a close friend with Florence Nightingale with whom she discussed opening a hospital together.

She died at her home in Hastings, England and her ashes were buried in the graveyard of St Munn's Parish Church, Kilmun, Scotland. The Lancet and The British Medical Journal carried obituaries honoring her.

Since 1949, the American Medical Women's Association gives the Elizabeth Blackwell Medal to a woman physician. Hobart and William Smith Colleges present the Elizabeth Blackwell Award to women for outstanding service to humankind

Trivia

The first woman to receive a medical degree, she declared, “If society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled”.

// Famous Feminists

Elizabeth Blackwell biography timelines

  • // 185
    In 1852, she published ‘The Laws of Life with Special Reference to the Physical Education of Girls’. The book was about the physical and mental development of girls and with the preparation of young women for motherhood.
  • // 3rd Feb 1821
    Elizabeth Blackwell was born in a house on Dickson Street in Bristol, England, to Samuel Blackwell, a sugar refiner and his wife Hannah (Lane) Blackwell. She was third of the nine siblings.
  • // 1832
    In 1832, the family relocated to New York City, in the United States where Samuel joined Samuel Hanson Cox's congregation, and become rather active in reform circles and supported the abolition of slavery.
  • // 1838
    A fire in his sugar refinery destroyed it and Samuel decided to shift to Cincinnati, but he died soon after in 1838 leaving a widow, nine children and great deal of debt.
  • // 1845
    By 1845, she decided on a medical career and in order to save money for medical school expense, she taught music at an academy in Asheville, North Carolina, and lodged with Rev. John Dickson, a physician turned clergyman.
  • // 1847
    In 1847, she left for Philadelphia and New York, to explore the opportunities for medical study. In Philadelphia, she boarded with Dr. William Elder, and studied anatomy privately but her applications were rejected.
  • // 1847
    In 1847, Blackwell was accepted as a medical student by Geneva Medical College, New York quite accidentally as students thought it was a joke when they were asked to vote on her admission.
  • // 1849
    In January 1849, she became the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States. When the dean, Dr. Charles Lee, conferred her degree, he stood up and bowed to her.
  • // 1851
    In 1851, she returned to the U.S to establish her own practice in New York and later established a small dispensary near Tompkins Square
  • // 1857
    In 1857, she along with her sister Emily now a qualified doctor, and Dr. Zakrzewska, expanded the dispensary into the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children.
  • // 1858
    In 1858, under a clause in the Medical Act 1858 she was able to become the first woman in England to have her name entered on the General Medical Council's medical register.
  • // 1874
    Following a rift with Emily, she left for England and in 1874 opened the London School of Medicine for Women, with the primary goal of preparing women for the licensing exam of Apothecaries Hall.
  • // 1877
    At the school, she lost much of her authority to Jex-Blake, and was relegated to being a lecturer in midwifery. She resigned this position and retired from her medical career in 1877.
  • // 31st May 1910
    She died at her home in Hastings, England and her ashes were buried in the graveyard of St Munn's Parish Church, Kilmun, Scotland. The Lancet and The British Medical Journal carried obituaries honoring her.

// Famous American

Elizabeth Blackwell's FAQ

  • What is Elizabeth Blackwell birthday?

    Elizabeth Blackwell was born at 1821-02-03

  • When was Elizabeth Blackwell died?

    Elizabeth Blackwell was died at 1910-05-31

  • Where was Elizabeth Blackwell died?

    Elizabeth Blackwell was died in Hastings

  • Which age was Elizabeth Blackwell died?

    Elizabeth Blackwell was died at age 89

  • Where is Elizabeth Blackwell's birth place?

    Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol

  • What is Elizabeth Blackwell nationalities?

    Elizabeth Blackwell's nationalities is American

  • Who is Elizabeth Blackwell siblings?

    Elizabeth Blackwell's siblings is Anna, Ellen, Emily, George, Henry, Howard, Marian, Samuel

  • What was Elizabeth Blackwell universities?

    Elizabeth Blackwell studied at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Bedford College, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Geneva Medical

  • What is Elizabeth Blackwell's religion?

    Elizabeth Blackwell's religion is Quaker

  • Who is Elizabeth Blackwell's father?

    Elizabeth Blackwell's father is Samuel Blackwell

  • Who is Elizabeth Blackwell's mother?

    Elizabeth Blackwell's mother is Hannah Blackwell

  • What is Elizabeth Blackwell's sun sign?

    Elizabeth Blackwell is Aquarius

  • How famous is Elizabeth Blackwell?

    Elizabeth Blackwell is famouse as First Woman Medical Graduate