First woman awarded MD today in 1857

23 Jan

Hello SK fans,

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell

We’re in a bit of a somber mood today. A loved one is undergoing surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed as we type. Surgery began an hour ago and is expected to last a few more. All we can do here is wait.

In an attempt to take the edge off of the anxiety, we looked up famous women in history for today’s date, and we came across Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to be awarded a medical degree. Is that cosmic or what? Whatever it is, we are already feeling much better and can’t wait to share her story with you.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born Feb. 3, 1821, in the U.K., and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 11. She seriously wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but that was unheard of in her day and new homeland. She pursued it anyway.

But it was not easy. Schools would not allow her to enroll in the courses necessary. So, her family arranged for her to be tutored privately by a medical doctor. She was as bright as she was ambitious. Her independent study was so successful, that the admissions folks (probably all guys) at Geneva College in upstate New York admitted her into their medical school. Geneva College is now Hobart College.

Not all were celebrating. There was an uproar from members of the school community, medical community and the general public. Elizabeth beckoned on, followed by her little sister Emily. Together the sisters opened the New York Dispensary for Poor Women and Children, in 1953.

When the final grades were released, our dear friend Elizabeth was the head of the class. She was awarded her medical degree this day in 1857. Again, not everyone wished her the best. Elizabeth first practiced in London and Paris, where her gender was not so much of an issue. She returned to the United States and founded The New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. We love Elizabeth’s focus.

Elizabeth has numerous accomplishments, among them, she is the first to emphasize the importance of hygiene and sanitary conditions for patients at the hospital and in their daily lives at home. She also returned to her native London where she fulfilled her dream of helping to found the London School of Medicine for Women.

Deborah Nagle, MD

Deborah Nagle, MD

She died at home in London on May 31, 1910, and of course her legacy lives on. In fact, the surgeon heading the medical team today is a woman, Deborah Nagle, MD, among the best of the best. We thank Elizabeth for persevering so other aspiring women, such as Dr. Nagle, can bring good health and longer lives to our generation.

xo, LMA


7 Responses to “First woman awarded MD today in 1857”

  1. Bruce Thiesen January 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Good wishes to your loved one.

    • louisamayalcatt January 28, 2014 at 8:39 am #

      thanks Bruce, your wishes are being answered. all is going well, lma

      • Bruce Thiesen January 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

        Wonderful to hear, LMA.

  2. soonie2 January 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    Fascinating stuff! Hope everything went well for your loved one.

    • louisamayalcatt January 28, 2014 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks Soonie2, things are going well on the medical front, many thanks to your good wishes, LMA

  3. LB January 27, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    It’s a few days later, LMA, and I’m hoping that you and your loved one received some encouraging news.
    In the meantime, thanks for the post about Elizabeth Blackwell. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard that name.

    • louisamayalcatt January 28, 2014 at 8:41 am #

      The recovery will be slow, but the news is encouraging, thanks LB!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


Poetry, Inspiration and a platform for Global Issues

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.


Practical Daily Devotions for the Real World

Open the Vox

Jester Wisely


Child of the human condition

Toast and Tea

Express Yourself in Beautifully Webbed Words

Disrupted Physician

The Physician Wellness Movement and Illegitimate Authority: The Need for Revolt and Reconstruction

%d bloggers like this: