Elizabeth Blackwell Biography

Read this biography to learn about the life of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree.
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Born: 3 February 1821
Died: 31 May 1910
Birthplace: Bristol, England
Best known as: First woman to receive a medical degree
Elizabeth Blackwell and her family emigrated to America from England in 1832. Blackwell worked as a teacher, then decided to be a doctor. After being turned down by several schools, she was finally admitted to Geneva Medical College (now Hobart and William Smith Colleges) in New York. Blackwell graduated in 1849, becoming the first woman to earn a medical degree. She worked in hospitals in Europe, then returned to New York in 1851. In 1857 she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, a clinic with an all-female staff. In 1869 she returned to England.
Extra credit: Blackwell's sister-in-law was Antoinette Brown, the first woman in America to become an ordained Christian minister.

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Extension Activities
  • Read about the history of women and work. Learn about the careers of successful women who have excelled at science, government, the arts, engineering, math, education, athletics, and more.
  • Explore the many contributions of women in American history with our women's history teaching resources.
  • Practice Spanish medical vocabulary with this two-page Spanish language printable. It includes a board game, dialogue, and grammar tips about describing illnesses.
  • The fingerplay and poem in this printable for Pre-K—1 will help you teach young children about what doctors do.
  • Use these patterns of physicians' tools to make a bulletin board about community workers.


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