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Elizabeth Blackwell
By Kathleen Redman

1     In the year 1832 at the age of nine, Elizabeth Blackwell and her family moved from her birthplace of Bristol, England, to the United States. Her father, Samuel Blackwell, died six years later leaving her mother, Hannah, to care for nine children. To help support the fatherless family, Elizabeth, Anna and Marian Blackwell opened a small private school in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Elizabeth became interested in medicine and at that time there were no women doctors in the United States. She argued that many women would prefer to consult with a woman doctor than a man about her health problems. This position was based on a dying friend who confided in her that her suffering would have been more bearable had a woman physician attended her.

Receiving admission to a medical school was almost impossible, a path filled with many obstacles. She lacked the money, prior medical experience, and necessary language skills that medical colleges required. She turned to teaching again for financial reasons and found a physician who allowed her to live in his household. This gave her access to a good medical library and the opportunity to expand her knowledge of Greek and Latin.

After 29 rejections by medical schools, Elizabeth was admitted in 1847 to the small Geneva Medical School in central New York State. Two years later at her graduation, she ranked first in her class and became the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the United States. An estimated 20,000 people witnessed her graduation. .....
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