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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 12:11 PM

a biography of the day--elizabeth blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in England.

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The idea to pursue medicine was first planted in Blackwell's head by a friend in Cincinnati who was dying of a painful disease (possibly uterine cancer). This friend expressed the opinion that a female physician would have made her treatment much more comfortable. Blackwell also felt that women would be better doctors because of their motherly instincts.[6] [3] At first, Blackwell was repulsed by the idea of a medical career. At the time, she "hated everything connected with the body, and could not bear the sight of a medical book".[2] Another influence on her decision to pursue medicine was the connotation of "female physician" at the time. Abortionists were known as “female physicians”, a name Blackwell found degrading to what a female physician could potentially achieve.[1] Last but not least, part of Blackwell's decision to become a doctor was due to the fact that she yearned to live an unattached life, independent of a man and the chains of matrimony.[2]
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In October 1847, Blackwell was accepted as a medical student by Geneva Medical College, located in upstate New York.[2] Her acceptance was a near-accident. The dean and faculty, usually responsible for evaluating an applicant for matriculation, were not able to make a decision due to the special nature of Blackwell's case. They put the issue up to vote by the 150 male students of the class with the stipulation that if one student objected, Blackwell would be turned away. The young men thought this request was so ludicrous that they believed it to be a joke, and responding accordingly, voted unanimously to accept her[7] .[8]
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The British artist Edith Holden, whose Unitarian family were Blackwell's relatives, was given the middle name "Blackwell" in her honour.


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