Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer joined a panel of distinguished speakers for the unveiling of the historic plaque marking the hospital founded by Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell Class of 1849, the first woman in America to receive her degree as a Doctor of Medicine.
The dedication ceremony, hosted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, took place on Monday, May 14 at 58 Bleecker Street in New York, N.Y., the site of The New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first hospital for women, staffed by women, and run by women.
Following her graduation at the head of her class from Hobart’s precursor, the medical school of Geneva College, Blackwell not only founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children but aided in the creation of its medical college. After returning to England, she helped found the National Health Society, was the first woman to be placed on 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 and was responsible for the first chair of hygiene in any medical college.
In advance of Monday’s event, WNYC published an editorial titled, “That’s Not Pneumonia. That’s the Country’s First Female Doctor.” The article describes Blackwell’s early interactions with colleagues, as well as her pivotal service providing medical care for women by women.
Coverage of the event also appeared in Vogue in the article, “Jill Platner, Cindy Sherman, and More Women of Noho Gather to Honor America’s First Female Doctor,” as well as Medical Health News and am New York. In the article, “Elizabeth Blackwell, First Female Doctor in U.S., Honored in Greenwich Village,” Bayer describes Blackwell’s role in advancing women’s rights and the practice of medicine.
“Blackwell transformed medicine, its practice, its standards of education and how it was taught,” Bayer told am New York.
Bayer is an expert on the intersections of women’s history, psychology, science, religion and spirituality. She has explored the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, and their common history in central New York. Recognized for her outstanding teaching, Bayer received the Colleges’ Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2004 and the Community Service Award in 2009. She has served as the chair of the Women’s Studies Program since 2001 and directed the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men from 2002 to 2009. Bayer serves as president of the board of directors of the National Women’s Hall of Fame where Dr. Blackwell is among the inaugural class of inductees named in 1973. Follow the NWHF on Facebook, and on Instagram.
A former senior fellow at the Martin Marty Center for the Study of Religion at the University of Chicago, Bayer earned her Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in psychology from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
Geneva College was renamed Hobart Free College in 1852 and Hobart College in 1860.
The statue of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (pictured above) sits on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. It was sculpted by HWS Professor of Art and Architecture A.E. Ted Aub.