Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) was the first female doctor in the United States and the first on the UK Medical Register. She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in educating women in medicine in the United States, and was prominent in the emerging women's rights movement.
Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England and spent her early years living in a house on Wilson Street, off Portland Square, St Pauls. She was the third of nine children born to sugar refiner Samuel Blackwell and his wife, Hannah (née Lane). Blackwell could afford to give his numerous sons an education and also believed that his daughters should get the same education as boys, so he had them tutored by the house servants. While growing up, Blackwell lost six of her sisters and two of her brothers. One night when Blackwell was eleven, a fire destroyed her father's business. In 1832, the family emigrated to the United States and set up a refinery in New York City. The Blackwells were very religious Quakers, believing that all men and women were equal in the eyes of God. Due to these beliefs, they were opposed to slavery. An opportunity was presented to Samuel Blackwell that allowed him to open a refinery in Ohio, where slaves would not be needed to harvest the sugar, so the Blackwells moved to Cincinnati. Three months after they moved, Elizabeth's father contracted what was then known as biliary fever, and died.
After the death of her father, Blackwell took up a career in teaching in Kentucky to make money to pay for medical school. Blackwell found this work unpleasant. Desiring to apply herself to the practice of medicine, she took up residence in a physician's household, using her time there to study from the family's medical library. She became active in the anti-slavery movement (as did her brother Henry Brown Blackwell who married Lucy Stone, a suffragist). Another brother, Samuel Charles Blackwell, married another important figure in women's rights, Antoinette Brown. In 1845, she went to Asheville, North Carolina, where she read medicine in the home of Dr. John Dickson. Afterwards, she read with his brother Dr. Samuel Henry Dickson in Charleston, South Carolina.