1 February 2018
In realizing that Elizabeth Blackwell did indeed overcome many adversities in order to achieve her goal of receiving a medical education, regardless of women’s position in society, it has inspired anyone facing the same insurmountable odds. Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from medical school as the first woman to receive such education. She ultimately changed the outlook of women in the medical field in her time.
On February 3, 1821, Samuel and Hannah Blackwell bore a daughter Elizabeth Blackwell, who would soon be the third of nine children (Thomson 4). The Blackwell household stressed education, and Samuel hired private teachers who went against English tradition and taught the boys and girls the same subjects (Biography Editors 1). Samuel owned a sugar refining factory, which supported the family (Ryan 12). A fire destroyed Elizabeth’s father’s sugar refining factory, which moved the family to the United States in 1832 (Ryan 12). The family settled in New York City, but business failed, so they later moved west to Cincinnati on the Ohio River (Ryan 12). Samuel Blackwell’s business went well, but in 1838, he died of a fever and left his wife and nine children penniless, and unprovided for (Thomson 4). To support her family, Elizabeth, then 18, her mom, and two older sisters opened a private school called The Cincinnati English and French Academy for Young Ladies (Khalsa 8). During her teaching, Elizabeth found the realities of slavery and racism illogical, so she refused to accept the southern families paying her wage (Khalsa 8).
Elizabeth continued teaching for several years, until in her mid-twenties, a close friend suffering from a terminal disease felt more comfortable having a female physician. In Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women, she said that the idea of studying medicine had initially repelled her (cfmedicine 6). She had originally favored studying history and metaphysics; the very thought of dwelling on the physical structure of the body and its various ailments filled her with disgust (cfmedicine 6). Blackwell came to the conclusion that any woman would feel more comfortable being examined and confiding their medical ailments to a female doctor, so at age twenty-four, she decided to get a medical education (Khalsa 8). Her family supported this idea and drove her to North Carolina from Cincinnati so she could teach school and begin preparing for her medical education (Harrison 3). Having no clue how to become a physician, Elizabeth consulted with several physicians knows by the family (cfmedicine 6). She learned that such training came with many expenses (cfmedicine 6). In the early 1850s, women had no opportunities to receive higher education, but Elizabeth stepped out from her position in society (Nordmeyer 2), which commonly assumed women morally unfit to practice medicine (cfmedicine 6). The challenge attracted Elizabeth, so she convin...