Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #60

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 – 1910)

60 Elizabeth Blackwell

In an age of oppression and inequality, thriving in your field can in itself be an act of social reform. So it was for Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. The first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree, Dr. Blackwell faced fierce opposition to her ambitions to become a practicing physician. When she opened the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children (now NYU Downtown Hospital), her Tompkins Square location was the only place she would be accepted. Near St. Mark’s Place, in 1868, she opened the Woman’s Medical College. Also a staunch abolitionist, Dr. Blackwell put serious time and effort into relief projects for wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War. As early as 1861, she gathered supporters at Cooper Union to create the Women’s Central Association of Relief for the Sick and Wounded of the Army, aiding field doctors and sewing bandages for the troops. After more than 20 years in New York, Dr. Blackwell eventually returned to her native England to set up practice there.

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1 Comment

  1. Judy Baker

    Did she earn her degree in NYC because she wasn’t permitted to do so in England?

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