Woman of the Century/Emily Blackwell

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BLACKWELL, Miss Emily, physician, born in Bristol, England, in 1826. She is a younger sister of the well-known Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. The story of her early life is similar to that of her famous sister. In 1848 Emily began the study of medicine, taking a course of medical reading and dissection with Dr. Davis, the demonstrator of anatomy in the medical college in Cincinnati, Ohio. Like her sister, she was endowed with great determination, good health, high ideals, quick perceptions and an exceptionally strong memory. Her early studies made her thoroughly familiar with French, Latin and German, and in Greek and mathematics she was well versed. She worked as a teacher to earn the funds to pay for her medical education Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell had graduated at the Geneva Medical College in 1849, and at her graduation the professors had testified that her presence in the school "had EMILY BLACKWELL.jpgEMILY BLACKWELL. exercised a beneficial influence upon her fellow students in all respects," and that "the average attainments and general conduct of students, during the period she passed among them, were of a higher character than those of any other class which has been assembled in the college since the connection of the president with the institution." The college professors having been severely criticised for making such an innovation, when her sister Emily, in 1851, applied for admission, she was met with the discouraging declaration that they were not ready to look upon the case of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell as a precedent, and that the admission, training and graduation of one woman did not mean the permanent opening of the doors of the Geneva Medical College to women. Emily made application to ten other colleges, and each of the ten refused to permit her to enter. She then went to New York City, where she was admitted to study in the free hospital of Bellevue Medical College. In 1852 she was admitted to Rush Medical College in Chicago, Ill. The following summer she spent in New York in hospital work in Bellevue and study and experiment in the chemical laboratory of Dr. Doremus. Returning to Chicago to begin her second term, she was dismayed to learn that Rush College had closed its doors against her. The authorities of the college had been censured by the State Medical Association of Illinois for having permitted a woman to enter the institution as a student. She next went to Cleveland, Ohio, where the medical school admitted her. She studied earnestly and was graduated after passing triumphantly a most searching examination. She then went to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she studied under the eminent Dr. Simpson in the lying-in hospital. Then she went to Paris, where she attended clinics under the great physicians of that city in the Hotel Dieu. the Beaujou, the St. Louis and the Hospital des Enfants Malades, living and working in the Hospital of the Maternité. After Paris, she went to London, England, where she "walked" the wards of St. Bartholomew and other hospitals. In 1856 she returned to the United States, bringing the highest testimonials of training, study and acquirement. On her return she discovered that the popular sentiment seemed to have turned against women physicians more strongly than ever before. After the graduation of the Doctors Blackwell, several other schools and graduated women, but the faculties were determined that no more women should be admitted. Then separate schools sprung up. One of the immediate results of this revulsion of sentiment was the establishment of the hospital in New York by the Doctors Blackwell, in connection with a cultured Polish woman, Dr. M. E. Zakrzewska. In 1865 the legislature conferred college powers upon that institution. The new college extended the course of study to three years and was the first college to establish a chair of hygiene. Dr. Emily Blackwell has been from the first, and still is, one of the professors of that college, and the medical head of the infirmary for women and children established by the joint efforts of herself and her sister. The success of the college is a matter of history. The graduates number hundreds, and many of them have won distinction. It has been a "woman's college" throughout, owned, maintained, officered and managed by women. Dr. Emily Blackwell has also a large and lucrative practice and an honorable standing in her profession. She is interested in all the reform questions of the day and has written and published much in connection with her profession. She is one of the vice-presidents of the Society for the Promotion of Social Purity and the better protection of the young, and has written some of the leaflets published by that society, among them "The State and Girlhood," the "Need of Combination among Women for Self Protection," and "Regulation Fallacies—Vice not a Necessity." She is deeply loved and revered by her numerous friends and pupils. Her character is one of rare wisdom, disinterestedness and undeviating principle.