American Medical Women’s Association

The American Medical Women’s Association was founded in 1915 in Chicago by Dr. Bertha VanHoosen. This was a time where females physicians were “under-represented.” VanHoosen wanted to created an organization that would empower women and improve health for everyone.

The AMWA focuses on improving health for all with a womanly perspective. They want to advance women in the medical profession. Their mission as stated on the page is “…[T]o advance women in medicine and improve women’s health. [They] achieve this by providing and developing leadership, advocacy, education, expertise, mentoring, and strategic alliances.”

The AMWA works locally, nationally, and internationally. There are various branches, but UMW does not have a chapter. There are instructions on the AMWA website on how to recruite members to start a branch; you only need 5 members.

The AMWA is made up of physicians, students, health care professionals, and donors. There are annual fee’s depending on what your current membership status is: physician, student, resident, etc.  Nothing on their website says that males cannot join, and considering the AMWA wants to promote gender equality, I’m sure they’d extend the membership invitation to men, in addition to women.

My scientist, Elizabeth Blackwell, would’ve loved to have been a part of the American Medical Women’s Assosiation; she died 5 years before it’s establishment. The AMWA does have a tribute in honor of the 1st female physician rightly named the “Elizabeth Blackwell Award.” It is awarded annually to a female physician, member or non, that has made outstanding contributions to the medical profession. The AMWA and Elizabeth Blackwell share the same views. They both want to empower women. The AMWA does this as described in their mission, as well as through projects such as, “Medicine; a Women’s Career,” which is intended for high students interested in medicine. Blackwell really worked to encourage young females to succeed in medicine. The New York Infirmary and College for Women, which Blackwell founded, trained and gave experience to female doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell would’ve encouraged the AMWA to continue to encourage and mentor younger generations of females to pursue careers in the medical profession.

This is the AMWA website. It’s pretty interesting and easy to navigate.

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Arbittier, Dr. Doug, and Dr. Michael Echols. American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques.  N.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <>

Blackwell, Elizabeth, and Emily Blackwell. Address on the Medical Education of Women. New York: Baptist and Taylor, Book and Job Printers. 1864. Print.

 Blackwell, Elizabeth. Scientific Method in Biology. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C. 1898. Print.

 Blackwell, Elizabeth. The Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1895. Print.

Brown, Jamie. AMWA: The Vision and Voice of Women in Medicine. American Medical Women’s Association at Ut-Houson. n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

 D., Cathy. “Elizabeth Blackwell” n.d Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <>

 Dana, Charles A, and George Ripley. The American Cyclopaedia. N.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. < Dickson.html>

 Dunn, Carol Henry. “Wayne County’s Pioneer Teachers” Wayne County Historical Society. 2000. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.

n.p. American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). MUSC College of Medicine. n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

n.p. AMWA. American Medical Women’s Association. n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.

 n.p. “Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell” Changing the Face of Medicine. n.d. Web. 11 Sept.2011. <>

 n.p. “Elizabeth Blackwell Biography” Encyclopedia of World Biography. n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <>

 n.p. “Elizabeth Blackwell Biography” n.d.Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <>

 n.p. “Elizabeth Blackwell.” n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <>

n.p. “Elizabeth Blackwell” NNDB. n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.   <>

 n.p. “Saml. Henry Dickson, MD” Images from the History of Medicine (IHM). n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <–Henry-Dickson,-M-D.html>

 n.p. “Samuel Henry Dickson” Family Tree Maker. n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. <>

 n.p. “Blackwell, Elizabeth.” UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <>

 Wauchop, George Armstrong. The Writers of South Carolina. South Carolina: The State Co., 1910. Print.

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A Male Contemporary: Samuel Dickson

The male contemporary I chose for my primary scientist, Elizabeth Blackwell,  is Samuel Henry Dickson. I had a few options when it came to picking a male physician that had worked with Blackwell; I ended up having to decided between Samuel Dickson and his brother John Dickson. Both aided Blackwell in her studies; John mentored her while she lived in Ashville, North Carolina, and Samuel guided her when she moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 1846. I chose Samuel because Elizabeth went to medical school shortly after her time with him.

Elizabeth Blackwell and Samuel Dickson were both physicians. Though they had the same career, they had many differences in their lives. Elizabeth Blackwell was born Feb. 23rd, 1821. She was the 3rd oldest of 7th children. She never desired marriages, but adopted an orphan, Katharine Barry, in 1854. She applied to 29 medical schools through New York and Pennsylvania, but was only accepted to one, Gevena Medical College. She graduated with an medical degree in 1849, and became the 1st woman doctor. She had applied for several positions as a phsyician, but was not hired because she was a woman, though she did become a professor at the New York Infirimary and College for Women, and was offered a position at the Lodon School of Medicine for Women teaching gynecology. She founded both of those schools, in addition to establishing the US Sanitary Commission and the New York Dispensary for Poor Women and Children. She is also the 1st woman listed in the British Medical Register. Samuel Dickson was born Sept. 20th, 1798. His brother John, was a reverend and physician. Samuel married 3 times and had 8 children. He attended Yale (graduated in 1814) and the University of Pennsylvania (graduated in 1819). He was offered professorships at Medical College in Charleston, South Carolina, which he had founded, the University of Pennsylvania, and Jeffereson Medical College in Philidelphia.  Both Blackwell and Dickson are the authors of several books and essays. They also both died on March 31st: Dickson in 1872, and Blackwell in 1910.

I do believe that in some ways gender effected their carreers. Samuel Dickson was offered several professorships even to schools that he had not founded nor attended, whereas the only places that Elizabeth Blackwell taught at were the medical schools she had founded, and they were all girl institutions. Blackwell was also a single mother of an orphan, Katharine Barry, so it can be assumed that she had more family responsibility that could have interfered with her career. Samuel Dickson had married three times and had eight children from those marriages; his wives could’ve taken care of the children while he was at work. Looking at the time frame that these physicians lived in also supports my belief that gender would’ve effected their careers. They lived in the 1800’s. That was a time where the men went out into the workforce, and women stayed at home to raise and teach their children. Elizabeth Blackwell was clearly not a stay-at-home kind of woman, and entered a field of primarily men. I do think that Samuel Dickson was more socially accepted as a phsyician because he was male, but I think that Elizabeth Blackwell’s was more successful as a physcian.

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Elizabeth Blackwell

My scientist is Elizabeth Blackwell. She was born in Bristol,
England on February 3rd, 1821. In 1833, Elizabeth and her family moved to the United States where she would eventually begin her medical career; she is most known for being the first female doctor. Her father, Samuel, owned a sugar refinery, and her mother, Hannah, introduced the children to music and literature. Her parents disagreed with public schooling, so Elizabeth and her siblings were taught by private tutors; both boys and girls were taught the same subjects. This may have played a role in Elizabeth’s ambitious goal of pursuing a career held by primarily men: medicine.

Elizabeth Blackwell was a pioneer for women in the medical field; she was the first woman to obtain a medical degree. She was accepted to Geneva Medical College and graduated in 1849. She is also the  first woman to appear on the United Kingdom medical register. Some of her other achievements include the foundation of the New York Dispensary for Indigent Women and Children, with her sister Emily, in 1853, and the New York Infirmary and College for Women. In addition, she established the US Sanitary Commission, and is the author of several books. Elizabeth died in Hastings, England on May 31st, 1910.

What interested me most about Elizabeth Blackwell was that she
was a physician. Doctors, even today, are often portrayed by men, and women are seen more as nurses. I myself have considered becoming a nurse, but I never really thought of becoming a doctor (not because I didn’t think I could). Funny enough, Elizabeth never considered a career in medicine herself. One of her friends suffered from a reproductive disorder and told Elizabeth that it would’ve been easier for her to seek treatment had she had a female doctor. It was then that Elizabeth began to invesigate the idea and after consulting many male physicians, who believed the idea was good but impossible for a woman, she accepted the challenge (Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession for Women).

I think Elizabeth Blackwell is a great role model for budding scientist, espcially girls. She displays the idea of equality, in that she recieved the same education as her brothers and challenged herself to do what men told her was impossible for women. She proved that women are just as capable as men. She was an experienced educator and used that skill to teach and train other women to become medical professionals at the college that she established for women. I think she would suggest a person considering a career in science to not be afraid of a challenge or to go when others have not gone before them.

Here’s a link to Elizabeth’s book, Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women. I’ve read a few of the pages and it’s really interesting to see what exactly was going through her mind while she achieved all the things she did. Clink “Preview this book” to read it online.

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Annotated Bibliography on Elizabeth Blackwell

Primary Sources

Blackwell, Elizabeth, and Emily Blackwell. Address on the Medical Education of

Women. New  York: Baptist and Taylor, Book and Job Printers. 1864. Print.

This source is an address written by Elizabeth Blackwell and her
sister Emily that was presented before a meeting at the New York Infirmary. In
it Elizabeth describes the reactions of disbelief both men and women had when
she decided to go to medical school. This source will provide excellent
information on the opposition Elizabeth faced pursuing a career in a field of
primary men. The experiences shared in this article come directly from
Elizabeth which makes the source very reliable, and the details of adversity
will be useful when researching Elizabeth’s hardships.


Blackwell, Elizabeth. Scientific Method in Biology. London:

Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C. 1898. Print.

This book written by Elizabeth Blackwell discusses various aspects
of scientific research such as the importance of morality and the necessity of
research. Blackwell wrote this book after she became a doctor which gives her
the proper authority to have written this material. This source demonstrates
Blackwell’s dedication to research and her career as a scientist. It will be
beneficial to my research on Elizabeth’s medical career and as an educator.


Blackwell, Elizabeth. The Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession

to Women. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1895. Print.

This book is an autobiographical source of Elizabeth Blackwell’s
life. Its contents span from Elizabeth’s early life to her return to England in
1869, and it details the struggles she faced beginning her medical career. This
source will be great for providing personal insight on what motivated Blackwell
and helped her overcome challenges. Considering the book is written by
Blackwell herself, it has good authority, and it will be a good source to pull
quotes from to add to my research.


Secondary Sources

n.p. “Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell” Changing the Face of Medicine. n.d. Web. 11 Sept.

2011. <


This source is wonderfully organized; it lists Blackwell’s
inspiration and milestones, after basic information such as her birth, and
which school she graduated from. A biography focused more on her adult life
follows. This source is useful in that the time frame is more specific to the
span of Elizabeth’s career. It details how her acceptance to Geneva was somewhat
of a joke, but she proved everyone wrong by receiving an M.D. degree. This
source will specifically be useful to my research on Blackwell’s education and


n.p. “Elizabeth Blackwell.” n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.


This source offers a chronological overview of Elizabeth Blackwell’s career as a
physician and educator. It also states the various medical contributions that
she made such as the establishment of the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women
and Children and the US Sanitary Commission. This source will support my
research by giving me outline of Blackwell’s achievements and serve as a general
timeline. The source does not provide very much publication information, but
the database proves to be reliable.


Tertiary Sources

n.p. “Elizabeth Blackwell Biography” Encyclopedia of World Biography. n.d.

Web. 26 Sept. 2011.
This is an encyclopedia on Elizabeth Blackwell that has different parts
of her life divided into different sections: early life, education, career.
I also really liked the picture it displays of Elizabeth. It was useful to my
research by supporting facts that I had gotten from other sources as well
as providing any additional information. The information given is
consistent to that seen in other sources which makes it reliable.

 n.p. “Blackwell, Elizabeth.” UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Web.

11 Sept. 2011.<>

This encyclopedia page served as starting point for my research. It allowed me to
gain perspective on Blackwell’s life and what she’s known for (being the first
woman doctor). It gave me a basic overview of her career, and then I was able
to search for more sources. This source, unlike the other web sources, has a
publishing date which leads me to believe that the information has not been
edited since that date keeping the information consistent.


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