The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine

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Today, while women doctors are not quite two a penny, they are far from a rarity. Back in the earlier decades of the nineteenth century, in both America and Europe, women seeking medical degrees found ambition and training were unendingly challenging. In The Doctors Blackwell, two sisters, Elizabeth and Emily, were dissimilar except in their determination.

Author Janice Nimura’s primary research material was personal letters, a treasure trove indeed. The letters were obviously unintended for public scrutiny so perhaps it is not quite fair to judge Elizabeth as unpleasant, disparaging of other women, and someone you wouldn’t want to deal with professionally or socially. Emily, when ‘met’ through the letters and additional sources, was more human, even endearing. Both sisters were motivated by recognizing that many women died prematurely through unwillingness or embarrassment to reveal their illnesses to male doctors.

Where much energy is expended now on finding an appropriate medical school, the options were far more limited and necessitated exhausting travel from one country to another seeking the wherewithal to set up a practice.

The book is exhilarating, full of medical descriptions, some quite harrowing, as well as photographs and details showing medical advances over almost two centuries.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date 19-Jan-2021
ISBN 9781789096491 Buy this Book
Issue April 2021
Category History


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