Elizabeth Blackwell is immortalized as a student in a statue on the Hobart Quadrangle, the center of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (successor of the Geneva Medical College) campus.
Blackwell (1821-1910) was rejected from 16 medical schools due to her gender before getting accepted to Geneva Medical College in 1847. She graduated two years later, at the top of her class, and became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Her achievement is considered one of the proudest moments in the history of Hobart and William Smith.
Blackwell co-founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1957 and later the Woman’s Medical College in New York City. She lectured female audiences on sexual physiology, hygiene, and reproduction. Upon returning to England, she operated a private practice and helped found the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874.
The seven-foot bronze, 800-pound sculpture, was dedicated on October 1st, 1994; it is the only figure sculpture on campus. Using three models, Blackwell’s photographs, diaries, biographical records, and ancient casting techniques, the college Professor of Art and Architecture A.E. Ted Aub sculpted it for three years, and Dexter Benedict cast it. Benedict also created the statues of Harriet Tubman and James Seward in Schenectady.
On the granite base, an excerpt from a letter Blackwell wrote from Geneva in 1847 reads: “I cannot but congratulate myself on having found at last the right place for my beginning.”
A plaque in front of the monument reads: “ELIZABETH BLACKWELL, M.D. / 1821-1910 / Admitted to the Medical School of Geneva (now Hobart) / College in 1847 and graduated, first in her class, two / years later, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female/physician in the United States. Her life was devoted / to women’s and children’s health care, reproductive / education, and to open the medical profession to women”.
Elizabeth Blackwell - her life and achievements
A conversation with Mary Wright, historian and expert on Elizabeth Blackwell, December 2018.
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