SCIENCES

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

Norton. Jan. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780393635546. $27.95. MED
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Nimura (Daughters of the Samurai) brings to life the fascinating histories of physicians Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, and their extended family. The Blackwell sisters both had to scrape together the training they needed to become qualified as women doctors in the 19th century, but they chose to follow different paths in their careers. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the older sister, was the first woman in the United States to receive an MD. She later became an advocate for women in the profession as well as the field of women’s health. With her sister Emily, she went on to establish the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which is now part of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Emily Blackwell (1826-1910) was a compassionate practicing doctor and teacher at the hospital she cofounded. Both sisters traveled in Europe for training, further studies, and later lecturing, meeting and working with some of the well-known medical figures of the time, including Florence Nightingale. Nimura has done extensive research on her subjects, using archives, letters, contemporary writings, and secondary materials to bring their stories to life.
VERDICT This book is an excellent read for those interested in the history of medicine and those who enjoy a well-written biography.
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