Elizabeth Blackwell

by Raegan from San Diego

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Elizabeth Blackwell once said "It is not easy to be a pioneer - but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world." Elizabeth Blackwell was a pioneer, a woman who would do the unthinkable, or as people referred to it, "the impossible", even when nobody believed in her vision; If she had an ambition, she was going to achieve it. Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3rd, 1821 into a family of strong advocates of abolition and women's rights. From the moment she was born, she was treated as an equal to her brothers, and given the same education. At that time, this was extremely uncommon. People thought women could never be capable at the intellectual level of men, and that women could never thrive in prominent careers. But when the idea from a dying friend, Mary Donaldson, came that female doctors were needed in society to eliminate embarrassment, she was the first to pursue the opportunity. After going through many hardships and tons of disbelief from fellow teachers, peers, and the public, in 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female to graduate with a medical degree in the United States. Through all her struggles, Blackwell stayed true to her beliefs, inspired many people to follow in her footsteps and remained determined.

Elizabeth Blackwell believed completely in equality. She established her beliefs through abolition and women's rights. "Blackwell was a well-known abolitionist whose family fought against slavery and helped house escaping slaves. She was also raised equal to her brothers and worked for women's suffrage" (Western New York Suffragists). In the time Elizabeth lived abolition was a huge controversy in the United States, because of segregation. Her family helped create equality because they believed that no matter what you look like everyone should have equal rights. Her parents also raised her and her siblings to all have the same education, where men would usually get many more opportunities. Blackwell's parents taught her that she could be whatever she wanted, which would inspire her to become the first female doctor. "Elizabeth believed that women should receive their medical education alongside men in the established medical schools. However, since the women trained in her infirmary were not able to gain admission to the male medical colleges, she was persuaded to establish her own women's medical college" (Elizabeth Blackwell - That Girl There Is Doctor of Medicine). From the time she was a young girl, she was taught equality by being part of an abolitionist family. This teaching of equality is what inspired her to become a worker for women's suffrage and to become a pioneer woman. Also, once she was in school she realized how difficult things actually were for women pursuing difficult jobs. It was this that inspired her to create a medical school specifically for women. Elizabeth Blackwell's belief in equal rights inspired her to do all the amazing things she did with her life.

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Elizabeth Blackwell's journey inspired many people to achieve great things. Elizabeth Blackwell went through a lot during her collegial years but she was determined and inspired people to do the same. She was the beginning of what would create a huge women's rights movement. "Blackwell was described as 'a guiding star. to rebellious women everywhere', but she was less motivated by ideas of rebellion than a desire to provide women's health care without embarrassment to them. She was America's first registered female doctor and the first woman on the British medical register" (Elizabeth Blackwell). Blackwell inspired many people to follow in her footsteps, guiding them into prominent careers that had never been attempted before. As said above she inspired rebellious women who believed in themselves and were determined to do something innovative with their lives. She was the first female to go into the medical field with an ambition to become a doctor and succeed with much more than she was expected to. She set the stone for many women and contributes to women's success in prominent careers today. Not only did Blackwell inspire many, she inspired many of those in her own family to become strong women in careers when it was highly unlikely. "Her sister Emily and two nieces later became doctors; her sister in law was Lucy Stone, pioneer of women's rights and Antoinette Brown Blackwell who was the first female ordained minister, so she was part of a family of determined women and men" (Peck).Knowing that her family was determined proves that she inspired them to do great things. They must've thought very highly of her to follow in her footsteps and her family probably had been made up of strong believing families that inspired her to be the person she was. Her parents treated all their children equally and gave them the same education, which was a huge contributing factor in Elizabeth's personality knowing that she was just as capable as they were. Elizabeth Blackwell achieved great things in her lifetime because she stayed determined.

Through all of her hardships and troubles, Blackwell remained determined. Going to medical school in the 1840's was not an easy task for many, especially a woman, when women had never even been thought of as being capable for such a career. This would never stop Elizabeth Blackwell's determined nature and nor would the disbelief of the public when hearing of her acceptance. "Elizabeth Blackwell's admittance to the college created an uproar. She faced criticism from fellow students as well as the general public. But she held firm despite these challenges, earning the respect of many of her peers. Blackwell graduated in 1849" (U.S. National Library of Medicine). In medical school everyone thought of her admittance as a mockery and told her that it was impossible for her to graduate. Comments like this couldn't bring Blackwell down though; she respectfully disagreed and pursued her ambition to become the first female doctor. Blackwell stayed determined regardless to the fact that she had little to no supporters to cheer her on. After getting to know her better more people began to believe that she was actually capable of her dream, and eventually stood by her when she did achieve it. Her attitude and determination not only led her to become the first woman doctor in the United States but also led her to do bigger things. "Despite opposition from both fellow students and the public, she became the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States. She also created a medical school for woman in the late 1860's" (Elizabeth Blackwell). Elizabeth Blackwell showed determination by not giving up through all of her troubles. She was determined to prove her fellow classmates, teachers, and anyone else who refused to believe in her that she was going to persevere, no matter what things would later get in her way. Also, not only did she get a degree for herself, she opened a school to help other women be able to do the same thing she had done. With the help of this new school they wouldn't have to go through the discrimination she experienced. Blackwell's collegial life may have been a difficult part in her life, but her perseverance and determination later inspired many other women to pursue difficult careers that were previously only considered male jobs. Elizabeth Blackwell changed history

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Blackwell's determined mindset, inspirational attitude, and strong beliefs helped her accomplish all of the amazing things she did in her life. No matter how many people failed to believe that a woman could graduate from medical school and pursue a career as a doctor, Blackwell remained determined, graduated, and went on to do many great things with her life. Elizabeth Blackwell inspires me to become woman in a prominent career because she proved that men and women can both succeed in difficult careers. She also inspires me to be determined. No matter how bad the odds, or how little support you have, you should always persevere and strive for your dreams. Nobody should stand in your way if you want something badly enough. You should never give up, even if the road ahead is long and hard. I respect and admire her completely for all the difficult work she went through to help women be equal and be able to succeed at the same level as men, which was an amazing and courageous thing to do back when women had little to no confidence pursuing careers. She made a huge impact on her generation, knowing that when she passed away in 1910, only 60 years after her graduation, the United States had grown from 0 to 7,000 female doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell helped make the United States the way it is today where women and men can thrive as equals in education and the workplace, and being one of the first women to strive for such a goal is an amazing quality Blackwell possessed.

Works Consulted


"Elizabeth Blackwell." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Student      Resources In Context. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"Elizabeth Blackwell." World of Health. Gale, 2006. Student Resources In Context. Web.   22 Mar. 2013.

Peck, Ira. Elizabeth Blackwell: The First Woman Doctor. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook,         2000. Print.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Elizabeth Blackwell - That Girl There Is Doctor of     Medicine." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine,    10 July 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Western New York Suffragists. "Elizabeth Blackwell." Elizabeth Blackwell. Rochester      Regional Library Council, 2000. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Page created on 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

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