Elizabeth Blackwell

by Rebecca from Fredericksburg

“If society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled.”
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The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word "hero" is someone that is an overachiever in some sort of way. It’s someone that has gone out of their way to do good for others or even society itself. It’s someone that is unselfish but yet fights for what they believe in. Whether it involves just their family and friends, or the world as a whole, they have accomplished something so deep that it has made an impact on one or a million individuals.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821, in Counterslip, near Bristol, England. Blackwell was of a large, prosperous, and cultured family and was well educated by private tutors. Financial reverses and the family's liberal social and religious views prompted them to immigrate to the United States in the summer of 1832. In 1838 the Blackwell's moved to Cincinnati, Ohio; within a few months Mr. Blackwell died and left his family without provision. The three oldest girls supported the family for several years by operating a boarding school for young women.

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Later, Elizabeth Blackwell undertook the study of medicine privately with sympathetic physicians, and in 1847 she began seeking admission to a medical school. All the leading schools rejected her application, but she was at length admitted to Geneva Medical College in Geneva, New York. Her months there were extremely difficult. Townspeople and much of the male student body ostracized and harassed her, and she was at first even barred from classroom demonstrations. She persevered, however, and in January 1849, ranked first in her class, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in the United States to graduate from medical school and the first woman doctor of medicine in modern times.

As she worked through her training she was not always well received by others, especially other doctors. In 1853 she opened a dispensary in a tenement district of New York City which later became the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1868. The Civil War halted her efforts to expand the Infirmary to include a medical college and a nursing school. The Infirmary was run by Elizabeth's sister, Emily, after she retired to England in 1869.

Blackwell died in Hastings, Sussex, England, on May 31, 1910. She was, by far, an overachiever. Women’s rights possibly wouldn’t be how they are today if she wasn’t overly confident to fight in what she believed in. She was extremely responsible, and cared for her family very much. An example being the assistance she and her sisters provided to their family after their father's death. She was kind, yet tough, responsible, well educated, assertive, and most importantly she was confident. Blackwell’s characteristics fufill my definition of heroism, therefore making her my all time hero!

Page created on 7/3/2004 2:56:30 PM

Last edited 2/2/2019 4:50:50 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Women in American History - by Encyclopedia Britannica
4000 years of Women in Science: - offers a brief biography of Blackwell

Related Books