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Blackwell, Elizabeth (03 February 1821–31 May 1910), physician, reformer, and medical educator, was born in Bristol, England, daughter of Samuel Blackwell, a prosperous sugar refiner, and Hannah Lane. Her father’s interest in abolitionism and in “perfectionist reform,” the belief that through education and spiritual regeneration human beings could achieve a just society on earth, coupled with a series of financial reversals, prompted a move to the United States in 1832 when Elizabeth was eleven....

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Cutler, Hannah Tracy (25 December 1815–11 February 1896), women's rights leader and physician, women’s rights leader and physician, was born Hannah Maria Conant in Becket, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Conant and Orpha Johnson. As a young girl Hannah desired an education but was deterred by a lack of learning facilities for females and by a father who regarded her interest in education as “folly.” Her formal schooling was limited to the study of rhetoric, philosophy, and instruction in Latin by a family doctor. When the family moved to Rochester, Ohio, Hannah studied on her own. She wanted to attend Oberlin College and told her father that she would pay her own admission, but he denied her the chance. In 1834 she married John Martin Tracy, a theological student, with whom she had three children....

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Hunt, Harriot Kezia (09 November 1805–02 January 1875), physician, humanist, and feminist reformer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Jaab Hunt, a ship joiner and shipping industry investor, and Kezia Wentworth. Hunt attributed her “happy-cheerful-joyous” childhood home to the fact that her parents had had fourteen years together without children before her birth. The influence of her parents’ “enlivened intelligence” caused her to articulate marital ideals for women that she never chose to live herself. Both parents became Universalists and raised their children in this tradition....

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Clemence Sophia Lozier. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B018108).

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Lozier, Clemence Sophia (11 December 1813–26 April 1888), physician and reformer, was born Clemence Sophia Harned in Plainfield, New Jersey, the daughter of David Harned, a farmer and Methodist, and Hannah Walker, an informal medical practitioner and Quaker. As a child Clemence acquired an interest in medicine from her physician brother and from her mother, who had learned traditional healing practices from American Indians. Her mother, realizing that her daughter had a quick mind, began teaching her healing skills. The lessons ended when her mother died and eleven-year-old Clemence was sent to school at Plainfield Academy....

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Owens-Adair, Bethenia Angelina (07 February 1840–11 September 1926), physician, feminist, and social reformer, was born in Van Buren County, Missouri, the daughter of Thomas Owens and Sarah Damron, farmers. In 1843 the family moved to Oregon’s Clatsop Plains. Fond of the outdoors, Owens preferred helping her father work with horses to doing domestic work. By age eleven, she had received only three months of schooling....

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Remond, Sarah Parker (06 June 1826–13 December 1894), abolitionist, physician, and feminist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Remond and Nancy Lenox. Her father, a native of Curaçao, immigrated to the United States at age ten and became a successful merchant. Her mother was the daughter of African-American revolutionary war veteran Cornelius Lenox. Sarah grew up in an antislavery household. Her father became a life member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1835, and her mother was founding member of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, which began as a black female organization in 1832. Sarah’s brother, ...

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Ripley, Martha George (30 November 1843–18 April 1912), physician and feminist, was born Martha George Rogers in Lowell, Vermont, the daughter of Francis Rogers, a local politician, and Esther Ann George, an ardent abolitionist. Of Irish stock, Francis traced his roots to the ...

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Zakrzewska, Marie Elizabeth (06 September 1829–12 May 1902), physician and early advocate of women's entry into the medical profession, physician and early advocate of women’s entry into the medical profession, was born in Berlin, Germany, the daughter of Ludwig Martin Zakrzewski, a Prussian civil servant, and Caroline Fredericke Wilhelmina Urban, a midwife. The Zakrzewski family, once Polish nobility, lost their property to the Russians during the second partitioning of Poland in 1793, at which time Marie’s grandfather fled to Prussia. Her mother’s family could be traced to the Gypsy tribe of the Lombardis and numbered several medical practitioners, including her grandmother, who was a veterinary surgeon. Marie’s father lost his job as a Prussian military officer in the early 1830s, presumably because of his liberal views, although he soon landed a position in the civil service. Still, his meager salary could not support his family, and his wife went to work, training as a midwife at the Royal Charité hospital in Berlin. By the age of thirteen, Marie had left school and was occasionally assisting her mother on her rounds. By the age of twenty, after repeated attempts (she was turned down twice because of her youth), she too was studying midwifery at the Charité. She immediately became the protégé of Joseph Hermann Schmidt, professor of obstetrics and director of the hospital’s school of midwifery, who succeeded in promoting her—over the objections of many of his colleagues—to the position of head midwife in 1852, shortly after her graduation. However, intrigues against her led her to leave this position after only six months to go to the United States to study medicine....