The Determined Siblings Who Became America’s First Women Doctors
In 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman doctor in America, the medical profession was neither well established nor well respected nor well paid. Germ theory was more than a decade away, and in hospitals for the poor, surgeons in blood-caked aprons went from handling corpses to delivering babies without washing their hands. In wealthy homes, physicians coasted on charisma and connections as much as skill. At all levels of society, doctors had little more to rely on than “purgatives, laudanum and lancets.” What kind of woman would fight to join their ranks?