Monday, October 31, 2011

This Day in History November 1, 1848

I always believe in reporting really interesting things in women's history, and this day in history provides one of the most interesting facts in women's history in this country.  It was on this day in 1848, when the first 12 female medical students were admitted to medical school in this country.  It was Boston Female Medical College, and the picture above shows an early graduating class (1885) of that school.  These first 12 students graduated in 1850, and most of their studies focused on midwifery.

Now you might think that a woman was the one who pushed for this momentous event, but you would be wrong.  It was Samuel Gregory who recognized the need.  Why?  Because he did not agree with male doctors attending females in childbirth.  You might think this archaic, but I understand and appreciate his view.  I gave birth at home with a midwife.  The only man in the room was my then-husband.  While I would have been all right with a male doctor, if the truth be known, I still prefer a female examining me down there.

For 26 years, it operated on its own--it was renamed New England Female Medical College. It was the year after Samuel Gregory's death when it merged with Boston Medical University, thus becoming the first coed medical school worldwide.

Although this did not happen on this date in history, let me cover one very notable student from this school.

Rebecca Lee Davis Crumpler was a graduate of this school.  She became the first African American physician in this country.  She mainly treated former slaves following the Civil War.  She was not a member of the first graduating class, but she was able to become a doctor thanks to what happened on this day in history!

For more information, check out:

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