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Elizabeth Blackwell
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Doctor
    (February 3, 1821-May 31, 1910)
    Born in Bristol, England, United Kingdom
    First female doctor in the United States
    Founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children (1857)
    Co-founder of the London School of Medicine for Women (1874)
    Sister-in-law of suffragette Lucy Stone
    She was initially repelled by medicine, writing that she 'hated everything connected with the body, and could not bear the sight of a medical book.'
    She said she eventually studied medicine partly because she was seeking a 'barrier' to matrimony.
    She was admitted to Geneva Medical College in New York after the faculty put her admission to a student vote and the students voted 'yes' because they thought it was a practical joke.
    She wrote that masturbation was one of 'the two radical vices from which all forms of unnatural vice spring.'
    She turned to medicine when a friend who was dying suggested she would have been spared the worst of her suffering if her doctor had been a woman.
    She eventually won over most of the students at Geneva with her talent and persistence.
    She graduated med school first in her class.
    While training in Paris, she caught an eye infection, purulent ophthalmia, from an infant she was treating and lost the sight in her right eye, ending her plans to become a surgeon (1849).
    She trained nurses for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Credit: C. Fishel


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