Dr. Blackwell, Dr. Lozier, Dr. Crumpler


Dr. Blackwell, Dr. Lozier, Dr. Crumpler


A woman who wanted to be a doctor in the 1850’s more or less needed to start her own medical school. When Elizabeth Blackwell applied in 1847, she was turned down everywhere. Harvard, Yale, Bowdoin, and every medical school in New York City and Philadelphia refused her. Thread.

Blackwell was overjoyed when Geneva College in western NY accepted her. When she arrived she learned that the student body had been invited to vote on her admission. The men had voted yes as a joke. They were sure the application was a prank by a rival school.

Blackwell graduated after two lonely, hostile years: the first woman to graduate from a formal medical school in the US. The year she graduated, Clemence Lozier applied to the school in Geneva, but they refused to admit another woman.

Lozier, the youngest of 13 children, prepared for medical school by reading textbooks lent by her older brother. After Eliz. Blackwell’s medical school turned her down, Lozier managed to convince Central Medical College in Rochester and later Syracuse Medical College to take her. Lozier graduated in 1853 with highest honors.

Both Dr. Lozier & Dr. Blackwell were practicing in New York City in the 1850s. They must have known each other. Blackwell struggled through the 1850’s - in part because “female physician” was assumed to be a euphemism for abortionist.

Lozier had more success than Blackwell in those years. Lozier’s son - her only surviving child of 7 births - said she made as much as $25,000/year in the 1860’s as a surgeon and OB/GYN. She used her income to support the medical school she founded & the women’s suffrage movement. Lozier founded the New York Medical College & Hospital for Women, a homeopathic school, after a bitter fight with the state legislature.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton lobbied hard for the school, and it opened in 1863, the first women’s medical college in the state. In Boston, the New England Female Medical College was founded in 1848 by men who thought it unseemly that male doctors should attend births, and sought to train women instead. [The long history of midwives v. MDs is a topic for another day.]

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to graduate from medical school in the US, from the New England College in 1864. During Reconstruction she moved to Richmond to work for the Freedmen’s Bureau. No authenticated image of Dr. Crumpler exists. In Virginia Dr. Crumpler was denied hospital privileges, snubbed and disparaged by other doctors, and pharmacists refused to fill her prescriptions. Yet she served freed people ably. She returned to Boston, and later in her successful career she published a medical textbook.

Meanwhile in New York, Blackwell and Lozier continued to expand the field. Dr. Blackwell opened a rigorous medical school in 1868, a part of her hospital. It began with entrance exams, which weren’t yet required, and ended with board exams - to prove women were qualified.

Lozier was a powerful suffragist, and for 13 years the president of the NYC chapter of the National Woman Suffrage Assoc. Her own petition 👇 to Congress “for relief from political disabilities” - a form NWSA encouraged women to submit, along with signing a collective petition.

Lozier’s school was absorbed into New York Medical College in 1918, having graduated 200+ women. Blackwell’s school trained women--better than men--for 30 years, until merging with Cornell in 1899. By the end of the 19th c., the first women doctors had trained hundreds more.    


Daily Suffragist




For more on Dr. Crumpler: 




Daily Suffragist, “Dr. Blackwell, Dr. Lozier, Dr. Crumpler,” Daily Suffragist, accessed September 27, 2022, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/195.

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