Known worldwide as the first woman to receive her degree as a Doctor of Medicine, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell represents a historic moment in modern medicine and women’s liberation. Several years after her family immigrated to the United States, Dr. Blackwell studied privately with independent physicians, an education which culminated at Geneva Medical College, the precursor to Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Upon graduation, Dr. Blackwell founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Later, 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 pioneered in preventive medicine and in the promotion of antisepsis and hygiene.
In 1949, Hobart and William Smith Colleges celebrated the 100th anniversary of Blackwell's graduation by presenting the Elizabeth Blackwell Centennial Award to 12 internationally famous female doctors.
In 1958, the 50th anniversary Convocation of William Smith College, Hobart and William Smith created the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, first given to Gwendolyn Grant Mellon, medical missionary and founder of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges take special pride in claiming Dr. Blackwell as an alumna.
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