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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

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Woman of the Week – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Posted September 11, 2017 4:30 PM by lmno24

Rebecca Lee Crumpler is best known for being the first African-American woman physician in the United States.

She was born in Delaware in 1831, but grew up in Pennsylvania. She spent a lot of time with her aunt, who cared for the ill, while she was growing up. Crumpler later attended the elite West Newton English and Classical School in Massachusetts where she was a "special student in mathematics."

She worked as a nurse in Charlestown, Massachusetts until she was accepted to the New England Female Medical College in 1861. Very rarely were women or black men let into the school. In the U.S. at that time, there were more than 50,000 physicians, 300 of which were women – none of those were women of color, however.

She won a tuition award from the Wade Scholarship Fund, which was established by the Ohio abolitionist, Benjamin Wade. She became the first African-American woman to be named a doctor of Medicine in 1864. She was also the only African-American woman to earn a full degree from the college, as it later closed and eventually merged with Boston University.

She opened a medical practice in Boston after graduation and stayed there until the end of the Civil War. Then, she and her husband moved to Richmond, Virginia where she recalled that she began “the proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children.”

Crumpler worked under General Orlando Brown, the Assistant Commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau for the State of Virginia. This federal agency charged with helping more than 4,000,000 slaves make the stunning transition from bondage to freedom. In Richmond, she was faced with racism, mistreatment, sexism, and general unwanted behavior, all of which she ignored, in order to treat as she later wrote, “a very large number of the indigent, and others of different classes, in a population of over 30,000 colored.”

She then returned to practice in Boston for a short time, and then eventually settled in Hyde Park, New York. Moving to New York could be considered her retirement, though in this time she wrote a notable book, “A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts,” which was published by Cashman, Keating and Co., of Boston, in 1883. The book focused on the medical care of women and children, the kind of care that sparked her interest in medicine.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/celebrating-rebecca-lee-crumpler-first-african-american-physician/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Lee_Crumpler

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Re: Woman of the Week – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

09/12/2017 1:08 AM

..."In Europe, four-year medical schools were common, laboratory training was widespread, and a greater understanding of disease and infection existed. Many U.S. medical students attended medical school in Scotland, England, or Europe.

The average medical student in the United States, on the other hand, trained for two years or less, received practically no clinical experience, and was given virtually no laboratory instruction. Harvard University, for instance, did not own a single stethoscope or microscope until after the war. Until tuition was instituted in 1871 at Harvard, salaries of Medical School professors were raised through the sale of lecture tickets."...

..."American medical students frequently trained through an apprenticeship to an older practicing physician, who passed along his own fund of knowledge, good and bad. Sometimes the mentor, or "preceptor", sponsored the student's admission to a formal medical college.

The country had more than 80 medical schools that operated independently. Most hospitals were institutions that had evolved from almshouse infirmaries. Very little surgery was performed. The average medical student in the United States trained for two years rather than the European requisite of four, and received little clinical and laboratory experience. In 1861, several states still prohibited dissection by medical students. American medical schools weren't prepared to take an organized part in the war effort. Most schools were merely faculties of professors who delivered lectures for which they sold tickets. Fees ranged from $10 to $25 per course, and a popular professor could earn several thousand dollars a semester. Most medical schools conducted lectures for only four to five months of the year. Second-semester lectures were a repeat of the first semester. Courses in anatomy, surgery, midwifery and other subjects were available, but optional."..

Not really doctors by today's standards, more like medics with no real working knowledge of medicine at all....

http://www.medicalantiques.com/civilwar/Civil_War_Articles/Medical_education_during_the_Civil_War.htm

http://civilwarrx.blogspot.com/2013/03/american-medical-education-in-1860s.html

https://www2.bc.edu/michael-clarke/Almshouse.pdf

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Re: Woman of the Week – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

09/12/2017 11:45 AM
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Re: Woman of the Week – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

09/13/2017 2:22 PM

Where did "modern" US medical education start? Perhaps at Johns Hopkins? Quite interesting and frightening information.

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Re: Woman of the Week – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

09/14/2017 12:57 AM

..."Where did "modern" US medical education start?"...

Well I think this would be arbitrary but I would have to say after the discovery and acceptance that microbes existed and cleanliness was tantamount and a foundation of good hospital practices(which we still struggle with today)....beginning with Louis Pasteur in 1861 ..." introduced the terms aerobic and anaerobic in describing the growth of yeast at the expense of sugar in the presence or absence of oxygen. He observed that more alcohol was produced in the absence of oxygen when sugar is fermented, which is now termed the Pasteur effect. "...

...of course it took a number of years for this to be accepted and the importance realized, and then to start to be taught...I would say well into the twentieth century...the Salk vaccine for polio is probably the turning point in the late 50's....x-rays....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_medicine

https://www.asm.org/index.php/71-membership/archives/7852-significant-events-in-microbiology-since-1861

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