M.S. 210 Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman in the United States to graduate from medical school (1849) and obtain an MD degree. 

Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821 to Quaker parents in Bristol, England. Although education for women was generally discouraged at the time, Blackwell’s parents disagreed. Throughout Blackwell’s childhood, her parents were very supportive of her educational endeavors. By the age of 11, Blackwell and her family immigrated to the United States. During Blackwell’s mid-20s, she had experienced the passing of a close friend. Prior to death, her friend had told Blackwell that she would have experienced less suffering if she had a female doctor. This inspired Blackwell to pursue a career path in medicine. In 1847, multiple medical schools rejected her because she was a female applicant. Fortunately, Geneva Medical College accepted her application but for improper reasons. The college allowed the all-male student body to determine her acceptance through a vote. Many of the students voted “yes” as a joke since she was a female. Blackwell experienced an extremely difficult time in medical school, she was constantly harassed and excluded by classmates and faculty. Despite the hardships Blackwell had to endure, she graduated in 1849 and was ranked first in her class.

In the mid 1850s, Dr. Blackwell returned to the United States and opened a clinic to treat poor women. In 1857 Dr. Blackwell opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with the help of her sister Dr. Emily Blackwell and colleague Dr. Marie Zakrzewska. This infirmary would be the nations first hospital that had an all-female staff. This hospital still stands and is currently known as the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and is helping millions of people in New York to this date. Additionally, in 1868, Dr. Blackwell created a medical college devoted to providing education for future female physicians which is now apart of Weill Cornell Medicine.

In 1869 Dr Blackwell returned to England where she continued to advocate for women in medicine until her death in 1910.


"Elizabeth Blackwell," National Women's History Museum, 2015, https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/elizabeth-blackwell

"It Happened Here: Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell," Health Matters, accessed November 5, 2023, https://healthmatters.nyp.org/happened-dr-elizabeth-blackwell/

"Life Story: Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910)," Women & the American Story, accessed November 5, 2023, https://wams.nyhistory.org/a-nation-divided/civil-war/elizabeth-blackwell/