Today I learned about Elizabeth Blackwell.
During the early 1800’s, women could not vote and they couldn’t become doctors in America. Although many believed it couldn’t happen, Elizabeth Blackwell said she was determined to become a doctor during this time.
Elizabeth was a very determined person from youth, but she wasn’t always sure about what she wanted to do with her life. One day, though, she was talking to a sick person who gave her an idea. That idea was that Elizabeth should do something like become a physician.
At first Elizabeth said she didn’t like the idea. She said it was the last thing she would ever do. After thinking more about it, however, Elizabeth decided she wanted to study medicine.
When she told people that she planned to become a doctor, many thought this could never happen, and told her so. They said things like she was wasting her time. Others said that she should forget about it and just become a nurse. Her father was one of the few people who encouraged her.
After doing some studying with medicine, Elizabeth then applied to some colleges. None accepted her because they thought it was ridiculous that a woman wanted to become a doctor. Finally, Geneva Medical School in New York told Elizabeth that if all the students agreed to have her there, she would be accepted by the school. The students voted. To them it didn’t matter whether she was enrolled. Later though, Elizabeth found out that their votes were just a joke! That still didn’t stop Elizabeth from trying to be a student in the college. Eventually, in 1847, she was accepted — the first woman in America to be accepted into medical school.
Once it spread that Elizabeth was accepted, she became the talk of the school. She was often stared at and made fun of. The students in Geneva Medical School threw paper darts at her and touched her hair to tease her. None of this stopped Elizabeth. She was determined to become a doctor.
Elizabeth worked hard, and got high grades. In 1849 she graduated from Geneva Medical School at the top of her class.
After graduating, Elizabeth worked at some places where she could help sick people, and she looked for a doctor’s office. Similar to what happened when she applied to colleges, many landlords didn’t want her to have a doctor’s office. They said a woman cannot be a doctor. After searching and searching, one person was willing to let Elizabeth rent office space for use as a doctor’s office, but the landlord wasn’t willing to let Elizabeth hang up her signs advertising that she was a doctor. The landlady debated with Elizabeth for a half hour, saying she wouldn’t accept a female doctor hanging signs up on the office windows. Elizabeth, who had little hope getting a better deal anywhere else, finally gave in and rented the office with the landlady’s restriction.
Later, after a lot of hard work, Elizabeth — with help from people such as her sisters and other women who wanted to become doctors — raised enough money to open up a hospital in America.
Elizabeth Blackwell, who died in 1910, had indeed became the first woman doctor in America. Many books were written about her and by 1900 about 7,000 women had entered the medical profession.
You can learn more about Elizabeth Blackwell at:
And with that, I’m on SPRING BREAK!