Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Elizabeth Blackwell and her family emigrated to America from England in 1832. Blackwell worked as a teacher, then decided to be a doctor. After being turned down by several schools, she was finally admitted to Geneva Medical College (now Hobart and William Smith Colleges) in New York. Blackwell graduated in 1849. Becoming a "guiding star . . . to rebellious women everywhere," Blackwell was the first fully accredited female doctor and an ardent reformer of medical and social mores.
Although considered ridiculous, even dangerous, for pursuing a medical degree in the 1840s, Elizabeth Blackwell forced open the gates of that profession. She graduated in 1849, becoming the first woman to earn a medical degree and worked in hospitals in Europe then returned to New York in 1851 where she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, a clinic with an all-female staff. She later founded the first medical school for women, which resulted in both greater acceptance of female physicians and stricter standards for medical schools as a whole. By the time of her death in 1910, the number of female doctors in the United States had risen to over 7,000.
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