The First Woman Who Ever Obtained a Medical Diploma in the U.S.
1821 – 1910 A.D.
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman who ever obtained a medical diploma in the United States. She was born in Bristol, England, emigrated to New York in 1838, and later with her sisters opened a boarding-school in Cincinnati.
She, however, chafed at the limitations which society had imposed on women, and in 1944 the school was given up, Miss Blackwell determining to become the medical apostle of her sex. After three years’ further work as a teacher, during which time she devoted the whole of her leisure to the study of medical and anatomical works, she went to Philadelphia, where she applied in vain for admission into the medical schools. After strenuous efforts she at last obtained admission to the Medical College, Geneva, NY, where, after studying for two years, she graduated in 1849 with the highest honor, and took her degree of M.D.
Shortly after, she visited Europe in order to prosecute further medical studies. In Paris she was told that it would be impossible for her to gain entrance to the schools or hospitals there unless she adopted male attire, a suggestion repugnant to her taste and to the great object she had in view, i.e., the recognition of female physicians.
After much perseverance she was at length admitted into the Maternité and was permitted to visit other hospitals. After completing her studies in Paris and London, she returned to New York in 1851 and there established herself in practice. In 1852 she delivered a series of lectures to women, on health and physical development, the following year established the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and later, with her sister Emily, The Woman’s Medical College. In 1868 she settled in London and became connected with the Women’s Medical College there. Her published works include: Counsels of Parents on the Moral Eduction of their Children in relation to Sex (1879), and Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (1895).
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.