DR. ELIZABETH BLACKWELL

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Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell is most well-known for being the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American college, however her accomplishments far surpass just being a pioneer for her gender in the field of medicine. From an early age, Blackwell was involved in the education of young women, founding The Cincinnati English and French Academy for Young Ladies as a young lady herself to help with her family’s economic hardship. Her early affinity for transcendentalism and women’s rights garnered her negative attention, which was only capitalized when she expressed a desire to go into the male dominated field of medicine. After many inquiries, and the help of an established male physician and Reverend, she was still turned down everywhere she looked. But that didn’t stop her. 

"My mind is fully made up. I have not the slightest hesitation on the subject; the thorough study of medicine, I am quite resolved to go through with. The horrors and disgusts I have no doubt of vanquishing. I have overcome stronger distastes than any that now remain, and feel fully equal to the contest.”

On January 23, 1849, she became the first woman to receive a medical degree in America, and upon presenting her with her degree, the dean, Dr. Charles Lee stood up and bowed to her.

In 1874, Blackwell opened the London School of Medicine for Women. Though generally conservative in her views, she did believe that women had a sexual appetite equal to that of men, and made many friends through her outspoken belief in women’s rights and education - such as Lady Byron and Florence Nightingale, even challenging Nightingale’s belief that women should only be trained as nurses and not physicians. She published dozens of books, and has several awards named after her, including on from Hobart and Smith Colleges, which is awarded each year to a woman who has demonstrated "outstanding service to humankind.”

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