Born on 3rd February… Dr. 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.

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