About the name Historia

Elizabeth Blackwell

First Woman Doctor in USA (1821-1910)

Elizabeth was the very first woman doctor in the United States. She grew up in a supportive family that believed in equal education for girls and boys. During this time period, however, many people did not feel that girls needed the same amount of education as boys. Because of this, no medical school in the United States would allow Elizabeth to attend. Elizabeth wanted very much to be a doctor. At the Geneva Medical College in New York, the professors did not want to enroll Elizabeth. They let their students vote on this, and the male students voted yes, as a joke. Elizabeth went on to graduate at the top of her class, but the Geneva Medical College did not allow any other women to attend. No U.S. hospitals would allow Elizabeth to intern (or practice), so she had to go to France in order to train. Elizabeth became infected by one of her patients and went blind in one eye. When Elizabeth returned to the United States, she found that people did not want to go to a woman doctor. Elizabeth's sister Emily started a hospital staffed only by women doctors, and Elizabeth then opened a medical school for women.

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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.