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Lady Blackwell

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Meet Lady Blackwell;
a grand dame, a maverick,
an agent of change.

Meet Lady Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was a brilliant radical. Born in 1821, this Bristolian game-changer was America’s first female doctor, and the first woman ever on the British Medical Register. Today, her courageous pioneering spirit lives on at One Brunswick Square.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, and moved to America with her family when she was 11. Here, the well-educated Elizabeth became determined to study medicine. She was rejected from 16 medical schools before being accepted at Geneva College in New York. Despite facing hostility from fellow students, she graduated in 1849 – the first woman in America to do so. Unable to find a job in the US, she travelled to Paris to study midwifery where an infection blinded her in one eye, dashing her hopes of a surgical career. Determined to continue to practice medicine, she returned to New York where she wrote and spoke on the importance of hygiene. Together with her sister Emily, she established the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, which exists today as the New York Infirmary / Beckman Downtown Hospital. Eventually, Blackwell returned to England, where she became the first woman on the British Medical Register. She helped establish the National Health Society in 1871 and was a professor at the London School of Medicine for Women (now the Royal Free Hospital).

One of Bristol’s greatest pioneers, Blackwell died at 81 years old, leaving a legacy of courage and determination.