Today’s magnificent momma is Elizabeth Blackwell!
Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1821. Her father, a sugar refiner, believed that all of his children—including his daughters—should be educated and have the same opportunities as anyone else. This is why Mr. Blackwell not only hired a governess for his children, but also private tutors to ensure a quality education.
When she was 11, Elizabeth and her family moved to America. When they arrived, they were all deeply moved by the struggles of slaves and worked hard to help abolish slavery. When Elizabeth’s father died in 1838, Elizabeth and her sisters started a school for young women to help bring in money for the family.
Elizabeth continued to teach and fight against slavery. In 1845, she was visiting a friend who was dying from a horribly painful disease (most likely uterine cancer). Her friend told her she wished she was being treated by a female physician because she would be more understanding and possibly have a more comforting bedside manner. This got Elizabeth thinking about a career in medicine.
With the help of a reverend friend (who was a physician before he entered the clergy) she studied anatomy. She reached out to colleges all over the world but faced rejection at every turn. Most of the rejections cited that she: “was a woman and therefore intellectually inferior”, and she “might actually prove equal to the task, prove to be competition, and that could not expect them to ‘furnish [her] with a stick to break our heads with”.
In 1847, Elizabeth was accepted to Hobart College in New York. Two years later, she became the first woman to receive a medical degree. She faced adversity and prejudice every where she went. However, she did not let it deter her. She found other young women under her wing who had a dream to practice medicine. When the Civil War broke out, Elizabeth and her sisters trained nurses and opened infirmaries.
She worked tirelessly the rest of her life for social and political reform, and even opened the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874. For more information about the BAMF Elizabeth Blackwell, click here!