Elizabeth Blackwell – first woman doctor
Elizabeth Blackwell was the world’s first woman doctor. Blackwell had to struggle all her life to practice medicine.
Elizabeth was born on February 3, 1821, in Bristol, England. In 1832, her family emigrated to America. Elizabeth helped to support the family by teaching and, in 1838, the year of her father’s death, she opened a school in Cincinnati. In her free time she read medical books. It was difficult for her to get training as a doctor but eventually she entered Geneva Medical School in New York State. The men who taught medicine didn’t think it was right for a woman to be a doctor. She was the only woman in a class of 150. Two years later Blackwell was the best student in her class. In 1849 she became the first female doctor in the United States.
Blackwell then traveled to Paris, France, where she worked at a hospital for women. She continued her medical studies in England. She was allowed to study at the Matemite in Paris and St Bartholemew’s Hospital in London.
In 1851, she returned to New York and opened a hospital there. There was a lot of male opposition to this hospital because there were only women doctors.
When the American Civil War broke out she helped select and train nurses for the war.
In 1868 she opened the Woman’s Medical College, the first of its kind in America.
In 1869 Blackwell moved to England. She helped to set up the National Health Society. She also served as a professor at the London School of Medicine for Women from 1875 to 1907. Her articles and her autobiography (1895) attracted widespread attention.
Blackwell died in England on May 31, 1910.