Today’s post is a tribute to Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the first woman in America to receive a medical degree and a champion for woman to enter the medical profession.
Born near Bristol, England on February 3, 1821, Blackwell was the third of nine children of Hannah Lane and Samuel Blackwell, a sugar refiner, Quaker, and anti-slavery activist.
She faced discrimination and obstacles in college: professors forced her to sit separately at lectures and often excluded her from labs; local townspeople shunned her as a “bad” woman for defying her gender role. She eventually earned the respect of professors and classmates, graduating first in her class in 1849.
In recognition to her dedication and courage, as well as a thank you to all health care workers of all genders; I wish to share my poem.
Ode to Elizabeth Blackwell
Who are you, simple woman?
You- A child of Bristol with a sweet voice like gentle rain
You that pranced and played with nine siblings
Scattering up the ashes of your burned home
As carefree as dust on the bottom of your soles
You -who knew your form was as worthy as a male
Found your spirit like a caged bird set free
As tireless as an old seaman rolling over perilous surf
Soaking up knowledge like a falling rain upon parched soil
True conqueror were you young Bess
You -A fair bonneted woman challenged the system
Crossing into the great males’ territory
Like the velvet bloom on a thorny cactus
You blossomed and flourished, invading the watch fires
Oh woman warrior, you freed the way for your sisters.
First image: Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell
Poem by NL Avery USA
Second image: Edith Cavell Memorial Hospital and Training School for Nurses in Paris. Dr. Girard Mangin, Directress of Hospital, in foreground, is the only woman doctor in French army Paris