Elizabeth Blackwell Essay, Research Paper
Do you know who the first woman doctor of the United States
was??? Well if you don t I think you will enjoy the pleasure of learning
about this energetic and hard working woman who made it possible for
the world to look at women a different way. Elizabeth Blackwell made the
goal that many women wanted comes true for the first time.
Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England on a brisk night, on
February 3rd, 1821 to the proud parents of Hannah and Samuel Blackwell.
Elizabeth was the third of nine children. When Elizabeth was around the age
of 11 years old her family was kicked out of their home because her father
was unable to pay the prices of taxes. After men started received less pay
and were denied the rights to vote for their rights. For more than 3 days the
men set fires, looted and emphasized their desperation. When Elizabeth s
fathers refinery was burned down. That is in which mainly made it impossible
for Mr.Blackwell to keep up with the taxes and also made it very dangerous
for the family. The Blackwell family immigrated and moved to the United
In 1832 the family accompanied by Eliza Major went
aboard the Cosmo. Her family made their destination to the astonishing state
of New York in seven and a half weeks. At the age of 11 Elizabeth was way
too amused by the site and smells to worry bout any diseases she might
catch. Her family moved into Greenwich Village in the lower half of
Manhattan with six children one on the way, two parents and two servants.
Elizabeth was barely depressed about the moving; in fact she was pretty
relaxed and enjoyed seeing most of the sites.
In 1838 when Elizabeth was at the age of 17 her father
passed away. Her father Samuel was diagnosed with Biliary Fever. He was
given all sorts of medicines but never recovered. Elizabeth had a feeling her
father would never get better but her problems increased more after her
father passed away. Elizabeth was feeling dazed and hardly gather herself
to help with any work around the house. Elizabeth worried herself more
about what should be done about the family s acute financial conditions.
There being very little money left Elizabeth structured a family meeting.
Elizabeth and her two sisters Anna (23) and Marion (21) came to an
agreement that they were to start a school for girls and go into teaching.
Neither one of the sisters liked the idea but it was the only thing left to do
that would raise some money for the household expenses.
Shortly after Elizabeth s close friend Mary
Donaldson died. Before Mary passed away she stated that Elizabeth had
good leisure and health and that Elizabeth should become a doctor because
of her good will in liking to study and help people. . Elizabeth was startled at
her friend s opinion. But then Elizabeth started to think about if what her
dear friend suggesting could really help. Was it that there were actually
women out there that would feel more comfortable having a female doctor
instead of a male doctor? Elizabeth thought and thought, maybe she should
do it. And she decided to do it with her family 100% percent behind her and
of courses her brother Henry adding on extra support. So she had made her
final decision and Elizabeth wasn t going to let anyone! Stop her.
Elizabeth moved to Asheville, North Carolina to stay
with a good friend John Dickson to start studying medical terminology.
Dickson got Elizabeth a job teaching music so that she could earn and save
up for her college tuition. It wasn t until John Dickson suggested that
Elizabeth should move to Charleston South Carolina to stay his brother
Dr.Samuel H. Dickson. Moving to South Carolina helped Elizabeth a great
deal. Samuel had a Medical Library that Elizabeth was welcome to whenever
needed and was again set up with a job in a nice school teaching music. With
her busy schedule you would think she didn t have time to do any thing.
However every morning before breakfast Elizabeth would receive Greek
lessons before breakfast from Dr.Dickson.
Elizabeth applied to 29 different colleges and received a
rejection letter from most of them. It wasn t until 1947 that she received the
first acceptance letter to Geneva Medical College. Even though it became
acceptable for the United States for women to attend college, it was still a
major struggle for Elizabeth to get into a Medical college. And this made
Elizabeth very happy seeing that women in the 1800 s didn t have many
rights at all. They were pretty much just like slaves. A husband had the right
to beat his wife every few weeks or whenever he felt like it to stop his wife
from nagging. Divorces were extremely difficult for a woman if she wanted
the divorce. Women had no rights to sue a man for property because it was
against the law for a woman to own any land, even if her husband or father
dies. Pretty much all a woman was granted was Alimony, if that. When it
came down to children, they were normally sent to with the father. And a
woman couldn t fight or say anything protecting her or children that would
therefore make her improper. So Elizabeth faced many pressures towards
deciding to become a Doctress.
During Elizabeth s start of education at Geneva
Medical College, she received great amounts of criticism from the male
students and females on campus. Everytime Elizabeth walked down the street
she would hear things such as; What kind of female would openly defy
tradition? how could a woman let herself share a classroom with men?
Elizabeth never let the comments bother her. She knew what her purposes at
Geneva were for.
On January 23rd, 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell accepted her
diploma, being top of her class, wearing a black silk dress, trimmed at the
cuffs and a collar with white lace. Not the traditional red gown, giving a short
speech of appreciation and bowing before College president Benjamin Hale.
Henry Blackwell, Elizabeth s younger brother who attended the graduation
wrote a letter to the family saying, Our sis came off with flying colors.
After graduating Elizabeth packed her bags and
went back to Philadelphia, Elizabeth wasn t impressed with her sudden
popularity from a group of females at Geneva College. All of a sudden the
very females that were once criticizing Elizabeth were now waiting her
outside of her Boarding house and calling upon Elizabeth to congratulate her
on her great achievement. Elizabeth continued to be polite. However found it
best to go back to Philadelphia. Thoughts of going back home to Cincinnati
crossed Elizabeth s mind but she couldn t stand the thought of them having
another mouth to feed since her funds were very low.
Elizabeth went back to the Elders in Philadelphia. Searching for
work that involved Medicine, she wrote music for a Christmas Annual. Writing
music isn t what young Elizabeth wanted to do though. After lots of thought
of where she could get some hospital experience, Elizabeth finally came to a
good conclusion. Elizabeth went to Alms Hospital to apply for work. She
spoke to Mr.Gilpin, one of the hospital directors. Mr.Gilpin explained to
Elizabeth that it wasn t so easy him to hire her. She would have to go through
Political Leaders to get accepted. Elizabeth did just that and at last got a
contract stating that she ll be granted to enter the institution and that she
would be assigned a position by the chief resident physician.
The position given was for Elizabeth to work on the third floor in the
Syphilitic ward. Many of the patients would wander about and at times tried
to rid of their curiosity and peep through the key hole of Elizabeth s door but
she kept a table in front of the door so that they couldn t see anything.
The experience in Alms Hospital gave Elizabeth many Firsts. Before
arriving at Alms, Elizabeth had never seen a person bleed before. But when
the time came she had remembered what her professors at Geneva College
had taught her.On one Occasion a woman tied the hospital sheets together
and tried to escape. The young lady fell three stories. Found with some
broken bones. Come to find out she was inpatient and was in labor. Doctors
tried to save the African American infant.
Elizabeth couldn t stand the sites she was seeing. Children and women
were being treated differently than other patients.
In 1853 Elizabeth decided to open a small clinic for poor women and
children. She received help setting up the clinic in Manhattan and was given
furniture. When the clinic opened there was very little clientele. Until one day
Elizabeth open the front door wide open and stood in front of the entrance.
Crowds of women and children passed the front door, glancing up, into the
clinic and looking at Elizabeth. But they never came in.
On day, an aged woman walked by, looked then kept walking,
and then came back. She was shocked to hear that Elizabeth was the doctor
of the clinic. However she was convinced enough. She let Elizabeth work on
her pained arm. The next day Elizabeth came to see crowds of people waiting
for her to open her clinic. Elizabeth helped all that came to her for help.
Elizabeth also made house calls. It wasn t very safe, because the
neighborhood that her clinic was in, wasn t a safe neighborhood after certain
hours. Men would follow her. But Elizabeth kept walking at a fast pace and
never turned around. Her strength and beliefs conquered her fear.
Month s later Elizabeth came to find she would have to close the clinic
or start charging for her services. But most of her patients were poor; all she
could do was close the clinic.
In 1854, Elizabeth s sister Emily came for a visit. Emily had just
graduated from Western Reserve College and would soon be traveling to
England such as Elizabeth to further her education in medicine. Emily figured
that her stay in New York would prepare her for her journey to England.
During Emily s stay, Elizabeth stated to her sister that she was tired of
being alone. Emily s first thought was that her sister was going to plan to get
married. However Elizabeth gave up on getting married years before. No
man could understand her goals and some didn t or wouldn t approve of it.
Elizabeth fastly corrected her sister. She told Emily that she was going to
adopt a child, a little girl from the orphanage.
The very next day, Elizabeth went to get the little girl. Kitty Barry was
her name. She was bright eyed and had long dark hair. The little girl ran to
Elizabeth and greeted her. Elizabeth asked the young girl if she wanted to
come home with her. Kitty was happy as could be. She wanted nothing more
than to go home with Elizabeth and that is what she did.
More thoughts of opening another clinic crossed Elizabeth s mind.
She spoke with her sister about opening a clinic in New York. They spoke on
it for a while and decided that they would do it. Soon after a German woman
by the name of Marie Zakrzewska came to Elizabeth. Marie was a female
wanting to become a doctor from Germany coming to the United States to
find work. She had heard about Elizabeth and found it necessary to meet her.
Fastly Marie was built into the plan of working with Elizabeth and Emily.
They had meetings about how to start the upcoming women s clinic.
Elizabeth once stated that they would need ten thousand dollars to open the
clinic. However Emily and Marie found it impossible to raise so much money
in so little time. How would they do it? With Elizabeth coming straight home
from calls to spend time with Kitty then to Teach Marie, there wasn t much
time left. But as soon as Marie finally became a legal doctor they were to
start working towards the clinic. And that is just what they did. The three
ladies had so much planned. Their only problem was getting approved to
open a Hospital for women and children and raising enough money. Elizabeth
suggested that they buy a house then work to pay it off. A couple of day s
later Elizabeth had found a fine old house. The plan was to pay off the first
years lease then open the hospital. They kept the clinic open to earn money
for the hospital. In a years time they had managed to raise $750.00 from the
women s group they had accomplished to keep going. The trio had also made
a fine amount of money when Elizabeth found it time to help England s
women out educationally. Elizabeth s British friends urged her to come and
In August of 1858 Elizabeth, along with her daughter Kitty boarded the
Persia. Both ladies suffered of the same illness…. Seasickness. But at age 11,
young kitty found it so amazing. After arriving to England, Elizabeth went to
many of the meetings held by the women in England and also wrote a book
for British publication called the Laws of life .
Elizabeth soon reunited with her great friend Florence Nightingale, who
was a wealthy woman of her own achievement. Florence urged Elizabeth to
stay in England and work with her to start a Nursing school for women. But
Elizabeth had to return to New York make money to build the Infirmary up to
higher standard. However the only thing that made up Elizabeth s mind on
leaving was receiving a letter From Marie Zakrzewska. Marie had received a
letter from Boston College stating to her that they wanted her as a professor.
Marie accepted their offer. Elizabeth expected that Marie would leave after
the two years at the Infirmary. Elizabeth approved of Marie s decision.
In 1868 Elizabeth Blackwell was granted the title of Doctor of
Medicine . But it was useless; she had neither the appropriate amount of
funds nor enough supporters. Until Elizabeth shared this matter with the
towns people is when they donated most of the funds. But the college would
be much more difficult than regular medical colleges. Instead of being
accepted with 10months of medical experience, one would need 3 years. The
Medical College started with seventeen students and eleven professors.
Elizabeth taught Hygiene and her sister Emily a professor in Obstetrics.
Elizabeth made another trip to England in 1969, trying to rebuild her
energy and enlarge her experience of life. But in 1876 Elizabeth suffered
from a condition called biliary colic, a liver ailment. Elizabeth had 13 attacks
from this condition. It caused her to vomit and be left with harsh pain for a
month. Suddenly Elizabeth found it best to take some time of from her
lecturing at London School of Medicine. Hoping to cure her illness she and
daughter Kitty took a trip to Italy. The warm sun helped some, but no major
improvements. In the winter of 1876 Elizabeth wrote another book Under
the olive trees a brief autobiography.
Elizabeth and Kitty moved into a rock house in 1879. They had lived
there for 30 years. In 1906 Kitty and Elizabeth made a summer trip to the
United States. They stayed in a hotel in Scottish Mountain village in Kilmun.
During their stay, Elizabeth fell headfirst down a flight of stairs leaving her
scared for the rest of her life. Elizabeth was left in a dreamlike state of mind,
she never talked much nor did half the things she had used to.
On May 31st, 1910 Elizabeth Blackwell died of a stroke with
her daughter Kitty by her side. She had mentioned wanting to be buried at
Kilmun and she was. Her daughter Kitty made sure that she was left to rest
Elizabeth spent all her adult life striving toward a goal that
never left her heart. She made it possible for other women in the world to
work toward having a career.