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Elizabeth Blackwell Biography
Elizabeth Blackwell (February 3, 1821 - May 31, 1910), though a less famous name than Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, was in fact the first woman to practice medicine in modern times. She was born in Bristol, England, the daughter of a sugar refiner who could afford to give his numerous daughters, as well as his sons, an education. In 1831, the family emigrated to the United States, and set up a refinery in New York City. After the death of her father, she took up a career in teaching. Desiring to apply herself to the practice of medicine, she took up residence in a physician's household, using her time there to study from the family's medical library. She became active in the anti-slavery movement (as did her brother Henry Brown Blackwell, who married Lucy Stone), in the course of which she made friends with Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Blackwell applied to several prominent medical schools but was rejected by all. Her second round of applications was sent to smaller colleges, including Geneva College in New York. She was accepted there -- anecdotally, because the faculty put it to a student vote, and the students thought her application a hoax -- and braved the prejudice of some of the professors and students to complete her training. She persisted, ranking first in her class. On January 23, 1849, she became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.

Barred from practice in most hospitals, she founded her own infirmary, the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, in 1857. When the American Civil War began, she trained nurses, and in 1868 she founded a Women's Medical College at the Infirmary to formally train women physicians.

In 1869 she left her sister Emily in charge of the College and returned to England. There, with Florence Nightingale, she opened the Women's Medical College. Blackwell taught at the newly-created London School of Medicine for Women and became the first female physician in the UK Medical Register. She retired at the age of 86.

Her sex education guide, The Moral Education of the Young, was published in Britain, as was her autobiography, Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (1895). On her death, she was buried in a remote part of Scotland.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Elizabeth Blackwell.