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How can books help us discover uncelebrated trailblazing women?

Janice P. Nimura--author of the biography The Doctors Blackwell, for which she received a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities--shares with Eve and Julie the long neglected history of Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, who were the first and third women respectively in America to receive medical degrees. Together the Blackwell doctors opened the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women. Janice--who also wrote Daughters of the Samurai--discusses why she was drawn to write about these sisters; what it took for them to break into the all-male, 19th century medical establishment; why there have been so few books about them despite their staggering accomplishments (hint: they weren’t adorable); and how systemic sexism has shaped perspectives on both princesses and old crones. Finally, Eve shares a dose of 19th century medical gore!

The Doctors Blackwell

Even if you know who Elizabeth Blackwell is ― the first woman to receive an MD in the United States ― you may not know her sister Emily’s name. Nimura (Daughters of the Samurai) examines Emily Blackwell’s brilliance, and how the sisters’ achievements and (at times contentious) partnership changed the landscape of American medicine for good.

Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post

Go Deeper

Janice P. Nimora

The Doctors Blackwell, by Janice P. Nimora

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back, by Janice P. Nimora

Elizabeth Blackwell

Emily Blackwell

New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children

Women in the 19th Century, by Margaret Fuller

Nancy Talbot Clark

Florence Nightingale

Rebecca Cole

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast


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