Elizabeth Blackwell is noted for being the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States, and for later founding a women’s medical school in England. Blackwell is also remembered for her efforts to promote education of women in medicine.
Elizabeth’s father was very invested in his children’s education and development and provided both governesses and private tutors for learning. It was during her time teaching music in Asheville, NC that Elizabeth took an interest in medicine, studying medical books in Reverend John Dickson’s library where she was lodged.
Blackwell then began applying to medical school with hopes of studying at one of the Philadelphia medical schools. When she got to Philadelphia, she privately studied with Dr. Jonathan M. Allen while she applied to Philadelphia medical schools. She was repeatedly turned away for being a woman and told to goo to Paris to learn. After so many rejections, she eventually applied to other schools in the country. In October 1847, Elizabeth was accepted to Geneva Medical College (now known as Hobart College) in New York after her acceptance was put to a vote by the 150 male students who unanimously agreed.
Elizabeth Blackwell graduated on January 23, 1849, becoming the first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. Over the years Blackwell’s medical career took her back and forth between the United States and England where she lead reforms relating to moral issues, sexual issues, hygiene, medical education, sanitation, family planning, women’s rights, medical ethics, etc.
Blackwell is hailed for opening the medical profession to women in America.