The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Garrett-Anderson, Elizabeth

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GARRETT-ANDERSON, Mrs. Elizabeth, first English woman doctor: b. London, 1836; d. Aldeburgh, Suffolk, 17 Dec. 1917. She was one of the pioneers of that phase of the movement for the “emancipation” of women which aimed at throwing open to them the doors of the medical profession. Her attention was attracted to medicine by Miss Elizabeth Blackwell (q.v.), an Englishwoman who after many fruitless attempts was permitted to graduate M.D. of the University of Geneva, Beaver Falls, Pa. Miss Garrett, however, was the first woman to secure an English diploma. She began her medical studies in 1860, despite the fact that there was no school (in England) where she could be received, and no examining body willing to admit her to its examinations. The male students of Middlesex Hospital in London presented a memorial against the admission of women, and Miss Garrett was barred from that and other hospitals. Eventually the Society of Apothecaries authorized her to get her education privately from teachers of recognized medical schools, and finally gave her the desired qualification of L.S.A. in 1865, this being a genuine doctor's degree. She opened a dispensary for poor women and children in Marylebone, London, in 1866. Suddenly the Society of Apothecaries adopted a new rule which refused recognition of certificates granted for private studies, which made Miss Garrett's diploma void. She went to Paris, passed the examinations and returned to England with an M.D. degree in 1870. In 1870 she became a candidate at the London school board election, and was returned at the head of the poll for Marylebone, where her dispensary developed into the "New Hospital for Women and Children" in Euston road. She married in 1871. In 1874 she assisted in the establishment of the London School of Medicine for Women, in conjunction with her hospital of 26 beds. But the General Medical Council of England stipulated that only a general hospital of 150 beds could be recognized as adequate for teaching purposes. After three years of struggle and appeal, an alliance was formed between the Women's School of Medicine and the Royal Free Hospital in Gray's-in-road, which met the official requirements. The strenuous efforts of the devoted little band of women “would-be doctors” were rewarded in 1876 by an act of Parliament enabling British examining bodies to include women. Until 1892 Mrs. Garrett-Anderson was the only female member of the British Medical Association; in that year all restrictions were removed. Mrs. Garrett-Anderson was lecturer on medicine at the London School for Women for 23 years, and for over 24 years she was senior physician of the New Hospital for Women. In 1908 she was elected mayor of Aldeburgh, the first woman in England to receive that civic honor. Her son, Sir Alan Garrett-Anderson, succeeded Sir Eric Geddes as Controller of the Navy in August 1917; her daughter, also a doctor, was head of a military hospital in the European War.