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The Elizabeth Blackwell Building

Elizabeth_Blackwel_webElizabeth Blackwell (1821 – 1910) was the first female doctor in the western world. She faced extreme sexual prejudice in her attempts to qualify.

Unable to gain entrance to a British medical school, she attended Geneva Medical School in New York and in 1849 became the first woman to complete a course of study and receive the M.D. degree. Banned, by her gender, from practising in most hospitals in America, she established the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children.

Returning to England in 1857, she attended Bedford College and became the first woman doctor to be entered on the General Medical Council's medical register.  Once again in the United States, Elizabeth played a notable part in the American Civil War, training numerous women as nurses for the Union side. As the War ended she established the Women's Medical College in New York to train women doctors. Back in England from 1869, helping to found the National Health Society and the London School of Medicine for Women. In 1875 she became Professor of Gynaecology at the London School of Medicine for Women.

After she retired she continued to campaign for reform – mainly moral reform, sexual purity, hygiene and medical education, but also preventative medicine, sanitation, family planning and women’s rights.


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