Pioneer Work In Opening The Medical Profession To Women

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Paperback, 288 pages
Humanity Books, 2005
First Edition, First Printing
Classics in Women's Studies

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman awarded the MD degree in the United States.  Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women is the story of her dedicated, groundbreaking struggle to practice the medical profession, eloquently told in her own words.  

Though faced with continuous discrimination, Blackwell graduated from medical school in 1849, ranking first in her class.  Encountering resistance in her attempts to set up a practice in Ne York City, she persevered and established an infirmary and eventually a women's medical college. 

An insightful introduction by Amy Sue Bix (assoiciate professor, program in the history of technology and science, Iowa State University) discusses the history ow women as healers, concentrating on the nineteenth century. Full of perceptive reflections on the philosophy of medicine, women's education, the evils of slavery, and the nature of American society in the nineteenth century, this unique autobiography will interest scholars and students of women's studies and the history of science.

With an Introduction by Amy Sue Bix

Editorial Reviews

"[Blackwell] argued that overall health conditions would be improved by having more female doctors, since women were best positioned to understand family medical issues and, by extension, society health needs.  While many male doctors could exhibit sympathy, she said, women were by nature more empathetic and predisposed to care for others." --Amy Sue Bix

"Amy Sue Bix has brought to a new generation the compelling words of Elizabeth Blackwell, the historical icon of women in medicine.  Her 'moral crusade' to gain a medical education and establish herself in the medical profession still has resonance today." --Rima D. Apple, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Editor of Women, Health, and Medicine in America: A Historical Handbook

About the Author

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman awarded the MD degree in the United States. Born in England, she immigrated with her family to the United States in 1832. After teaching school for more than a decade, the medical profession gradually became an irresistible calling, and she began applying to medical schools. After being rejected by the leading schools, Geneva Medical School (now Hobart College in Geneva, New York) accepted her admission. Though faced with ostracism and harassment from many of her male colleagues, she persevered, and in 1849 she graduated—first in her class.

Blackwell encountered further resistance in her attempts to set up a practice. When New York City’s hospitals refused to offer her any post, she eventually opened up a small dispensary of her own in a slum district. Her perseverance once again paid off, for in 1859 the now greatly enlarged dispensary was incorporated as the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. By 1868, after consultation with Florence Nightingale, she was able to open up the Woman’s Medical College at the infirmary, which remained in operation for thirty-one years. During the American Civil War she performed valuable service by helping to organize the Woman’s Central Association of Relief, which selected and trained nurses for the war, and the U.S. Sanitary Commission.

In 1869, Blackwell moved permanently to England, where she established a successful private practice and was appointed professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women. She retired in 1907.