Quotes From Pioneer Physician Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell, about 1850
Elizabeth Blackwell, about 1850. Museum of the City of New York/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Elizabeth Blackwell, born in Britain, was the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree. With her sister Emily Blackwell, she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and trained nurses in the American Civil War.

Selected Elizabeth Blackwell Quotations

  1. For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.
  2. If society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled.
  3. I must have something to engross my thoughts, some object in life which will fill this vacuum, and prevent this sad wearing away of the heart.
  4. It is not easy to be a pioneer — but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.
  5. A blank wall of social and professional antagonism faces the woman physician that forms a situation of singular and painful loneliness, leaving her without support, respect or professional counsel.
  6. The idea of winning a doctor's degree gradually assumed the aspect of a great moral struggle, and the moral fight possessed immense attraction for me.
  7. Our school education ignores, in a thousand ways, the rules of healthy development.
  8. Medicine is so broad a field, so closely interwoven with general interests, dealing as it does with all ages, sexes and classes, and yet of so personal a character in its individual appreciations, that it must be regarded as one of those great departments of work in which the cooperation of men and women is needed to fulfill all its requirements.
  9. [about a first anatomical study of the human wrist] The beauty of the tendons and exquisite arrangements of this part of the body struck my artistic sense, and appealed to the sentiment of reverence with which this anatomical branch of study was ever afterwards invested in my mind.
  10. [quoting a professor who turned down her application to another medical school, then her comment on the quote] 'You cannot expect us to furnish you with a stick to break our heads with;' so revolutionary seemed the attempt of a woman to leave a subordinate position and seek to obtain a complete medical education.
  11. The admission of a woman for the first time to a complete medical education and full equality in the privileges and the responsibilities of the profession produced a widespread effect in America. The public press very generally recorded the event, and expressed a favourable opinion of it.
  12. The clear perception of the providential call to women to take their full share in human progress has always led us to insist upon a full and identical medical education for our students. From the beginning in America, and later on in England, we have always refused to be tempted by specious offers urged upon us to be satisfied with partial or specialised instruction.
  13. Thanks be to Heaven, I am on land once more, and never do I wish again to experience that hideous nightmare — a voyage across the ocean.
  14. If I were rich I would not begin private practice, but would only experiment; as, however, I am poor, I have no choice.
  15. The longer I saw Lady Byron the more she interested me; her insight and judgment are admirable, and I never met a woman whose scientific tendencies seemed so strong.
  16. I have at last found a student in whom I can take a great deal of interest Marie Zackrzewska, a German, about twenty-six.
  17. The practice of the infirmary, both medical and surgical, was conducted entirely by women; but a board of consulting physicians, men of high standing in the profession, gave it the sanction of their names.
  18. [M]y hope rises when I find that the inner heart of a human being may remain pure, notwithstanding some corruption of the outer coverings.

About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Quotes From Pioneer Physician Elizabeth Blackwell." ThoughtCo, Sep. 23, 2021, thoughtco.com/elizabeth-blackwell-quotes-3528554. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2021, September 23). Quotes From Pioneer Physician Elizabeth Blackwell. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/elizabeth-blackwell-quotes-3528554 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Quotes From Pioneer Physician Elizabeth Blackwell." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/elizabeth-blackwell-quotes-3528554 (accessed June 10, 2023).