Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 23

Elizabeth Blackwell - References and external links

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Physician, born in Counterslip, near Bristol, SW England, UK. The first woman of modern times to graduate in medicine, she fostered personal hygiene as a means of moral reform and combating disease. Sister of pioneering physician Emily Blackwell, she emigrated with her family to the USA at the age of 11 (1832). Educated along with her brothers, and introduced to abolitionist and reform activities, she chose to study medicine rather than marry, always maintaining an interest in the arts. She was turned down for entrance by most major medical schools of the time, but was eventually accepted at Geneva College in New York state. Initial student ostracization turned to respect, a pattern repeated throughout her pioneering medical career. After receiving her degree (1849), she was barred from practice in most European and American hospitals (1850–8), but set up private practice in New York City and lectured on public hygiene and founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (1857). Lecturing in England (1858–9), she became the first female physician listed in the Medical Register of the UK. She helped found the US Sanitary Commission (1861) and founded the Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary (1868–9). Returning to London (1871), she maintained a large practice and was named chair of gynaecology at the London School of Medicine for Women (1875).

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