As part of a weekend of festivities in celebration of the William Smith Centennial and Founder's Day, on Friday, Nov. 30, members of the Colleges community were treated to a performance of “A Lady Alone,” written and directed by N. Lynn Eckhert P’99. The one-woman, one-act play about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell describes the many obstacles she encountered and the extraordinary trails she blazed for women in medicine. The role of Blackwell was played by Christine Farrell, an actress, playwright and director who is best known for her role as Pam Shrier, ballistics detective, on NBC’s “Law and Order.
At a time when women were absent from medicine, Blackwell graduated from Geneva Medical College (now Hobart College) in 1849, making her the first woman doctor in the United States. After graduation, she founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and later helped found the National Health Society. She was the first woman named to the British Medical Register, and taught at England’s first college of medicine for women. She was a pioneer in preventive medicine and in the promotion of antisepsis and hygiene.
The play’s author, a pediatrician, was inspired by her own journey through the medical field, as well as her son’s graduation from Hobart College in 1999. Eckhert extensively researched Blackwell’s life and times, and after attending a playwriting workshop at Sarah Lawrence College, began writing her play.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase ‘A Lady Alone’ at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, said Eckhert. “Elizabeth Blackwell’s success is a noteworthy aspect of the Colleges’ history, and I felt the need to tell this pioneering tale.
Founder’s Day is William Smith College’s annual celebration paying tribute to William Smith, founder of the College in 1908. Beginning in January, the Centennial celebration will take on increased momentum with a series of celebrations centered on women in the social sciences. A Centennial gala is planned for early November 2008, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Elizabeth Blackwell Award.