I bet you have met plenty of doctors in your life and a lot of of them were women. Well you may find this hard to believe but there was a time girls were not allowed to become doctors. Back in the 1800’s there were a lot of things women were not allowed to be. Women were only supposed to become mothers or wives or maybe teachers or seamstresses, being a doctor’s was definitely not a choice. What do you think changed all this?…or should I say who?
On February 3,1821 a lively girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was born in the village of Counterslip, Western England. Her parents Samuel and Hannah were strong believers in the Congregationalist Church. As such, her father could not become a lawyer, a doctor, or a top ranking official because he was not a member of the Church of England.Elizabeth Blackwell had two sisters named Anna and Marian, who had a kind and strong relationship with their sister. Elizabeth’s father was a successful businessman. At the age of 3, Elizabeth’s father gained enough money to move the family into a large house complete with servants, governesses and a nurse. Wanting his daughter to learn at an early age, Samuel hired a tutor for Elisabeth at 6 to teach Latin, geography, math, French, and science. During the year 1832, illnesses such cholera and smallpox spread through the dirty streets of England. Her parents, were greatly worried for their children, so they moved the family to America.The voyage across the Atlantic took almost 2 weeks. Cholera soon broke out on the ship. When the Blackwell family arrived in America, Samuel restarted his sugar business. A year later, the family welcomed George Washington Blackwell into the world. But soon tragedy struck: the sugar mill burned down and money dried up. In 1838, the Blackwell’s moved west in hope of finding a new better life.
On January 28, 1849, Elizabeth graduated from Geneva College in Upstate New York. Since no hospital in America would train a woman doctor, Elizabeth traveled to Paris and started to work at La Maternite Hospital. One day Elizabeth was treating a baby’s infected eye, when by mistake Miss Blackwell splashed some of the liquid in her eye. The infection was so bad that the doctors had to replace her eye with a glass one. After she recovered from the injury, she returned back to America. Upon returning, Miss Blackwell opened a hospital in New York in the year 1857. After that, in 1868, she opened a school for woman doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell died at the age of 89 on May 31, 1910.
By that time there were 7,399 women doctors in America. Now you can see how many women were inspired by this definite, dear, and daring first woman doctor in America.