Elizabeth Blackwell was a great woman. She was the
first woman to receive a Medical degree in America. She opened an Infirmary for
women and children in New York. She also confronted prejudice and fought hard to
become something great in life. Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821
in Bristol, England. But was raised differently then most children at this time.
See women were treated differently than men. Women were given little education
and were not allowed to hold important positions. They were not allowed to be
doctors, bankers, or lawyers, and all the money they made had to go to the men
in the family. Since women couldn't become Doctors their were few around. Many
women would lose their babies because there was no medicine around. This
happened to Elizabeth's mom. Her parents wanted a big family but almost every
time her mom gave birth she would lose the baby. This made Elizabeth sad.
Elizabeth was determined that when she grew up she would become a doctor, so
that she could help babies and children to stay healthy. She was going to study
and work hard to reach her goal.
Elizabeth studied very hard. She read every book in
her house and was the teacher's best pupil. She never got bored of learning or
trying new things; and years later she became a medical student. All the young
men teased her in her class, but she learned to deal with it.
For a long time the Blackwell's ran a sugar business.
It was very successful, until one day the business started to loose money and
they had to move to America; and there she would be able to go to a better
school. So, on August 1832 they left to America on a ship. The trip was very
hard for them it was like a nightmare. More than 200 people were crowded aboard
the ship, and most of them brought cattle, rat-infested blackness below the deck
of the ship. Even first-class passengers like the Blackwell's were miserable.
There were outbreaks of cholera that caused unsanitary living conditions, and
claimed many people's lives aboard the ship. This made Elizabeth even madder and
more eager to become a doctor. She and her family were very lucky to survive
In October 1832, the Blackwells settled in a house in
New York. They became involved in anti-slavery activities and held meetings in
their house. At this time no medical school had ever accepted a female student,
in fact no women had ever been except into college. But Elizabeth set her mind
on changing this; she was going to be a doctor. The family moved to Cincinnati,
Ohio and within a few months of moving their Mr. Blackwell had died. Then one
day the family physician decided to show Elizabeth how to apply to a medical
school. She learned fast and for the next few years Elizabeth continued to teach
and study books about medicine and at the same time she applied for one medical
school after another. Then in October 1847 she received an acceptance letter
from Geneva Medical College in New York State. She was very proud of herself.
She was able to do it; she reached her goal. The next months and years were the
hardest for her. All the teachers hated her; they wouldn't even let her in their
classrooms. Fellow students mocked her, insulted her, and even threaten her. But
she was determined to complete her studies and graduate with high honors, and
she did. She was at last the first woman doctor in the world.
Elizabeth Blackwell gave her whole life on fighting
ignorance and illnesses. She opened a hospital and clinic called the New York
Infirmary for Women and children. She also helps to train nurse for duty in the
Civil War. She wrote many books on health and the prevention of diseases. She
died in 1910, at the age of 89. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell showed many people why
some things were so important like medicine and humanity.
" Elizabeth Blackwell." Grolier Encyclopedia
Davidson, James W. The American Nation. New Jersey;
Prentice Hall, 1991
Sabin, Francene. Elizabeth Blackwell. New York: Troll
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