Partner Elizabeth Cushier

Queer Places:
1 Wilson St, Bristol BS2 9HH, Regno Unito
Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106, Stati Uniti
Rush Medical College, 600 S Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60612, Stati Uniti
York Cliffs, ME 03902, Stati Uniti
17 Plymouth St, Montclair, NJ 07042, Stati Uniti
Chilmark Cemetery, Chilmark, Massachusetts 02535, Stati Uniti

Emily Blackwell (October 8, 1826 – September 7, 1910) was the second woman to earn a medical degree at what is now Case Western Reserve University, and the third woman (after Elizabeth Blackwell and Lydia Folger Fowler) to earn a medical degree in the United States.[1] During this period, unmarried women often coupled together as long-term companions, sharing their lives, their homes, their finances, and quite often their beds. The phenomenon was so common, in fact, that such arrangements were known by the colloquial term “Boston marriage,” a reference to the 1886 novel The Bostonians, by Henry James. Some of the most influential women of this era lived in such relationships. Jane Addams, founder of the American settlement house movement; Emily Blackwell, one of the first female medical doctors in the United States and a pioneer in providing medical training to other women; M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr College; Sara Josephine Baker, an early advocate for childhood public health; and author Willa Cather are but a few examples. Surviving documents make it clear that the women involved understood these relationships to be serious, emotional unions. They refer to their partners as “My Ever Dear,” “devoted companion,” “lover,” “dearest,” and often describe lifelong devotion, as when reformer Jane Addams wrote to Mary Rozet Smith, her partner of more than thirty years, “I miss you dreadfully and am yours ’til death.”

Blackwell was born on October 8, 1826 in Bristol, England. In 1832 the family emigrated to the US, and in 1837 settled near Cincinnati, Ohio. Inspired by the example of her older sister, Elizabeth, she applied to study medicine in Geneva, New York, where her sister graduated from in 1849, but was rejected. She was then accepted to Rush Medical College for a year but the state medical society censured the college and she was only able to attend one semester. Eventually, she was accepted to the Medical College of Cleveland, Ohio, Medical Branch of Western Reserve University, earning her degree in 1854.[2] In 1857 the Blackwell sisters and Marie Zakrzewska established the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. From the beginning Emily took responsibility for management of the infirmary and in large part for the raising of funds. For the next forty years she managed the infirmary, overseeing surgery, nursing, and bookkeeping. Blackwell traveled to Albany to convince the legislature to provide the hospital with funds that would ensure long-term financial stability. She transformed an institution housed in a rented, sixteen-room house into a fully fledged hospital. By 1874 the infirmary served over 7,000 patients annually.

17 Plymouth St, Montclair, NJ 07042, Stati Uniti

During the American Civil War, Blackwell helped organize the Women's Central Association of Relief, which selected and trained nurses for service in the war. Emily and Elizabeth Blackwell and Mary Livermore also played an important role in the development of the United States Sanitary Commission.

After the war, in 1868 the Blackwell sisters established the Women's Medical College in New York City. Emily became professor of obstetrics and, in 1869, when Elizabeth moved to London to help form the London School of Medicine for Women, became dean of the college. In 1876 it became a three-year institution, and in 1893 it became a four-year college, ahead of much of the profession. By 1899 the college had trained 364 women doctors.

From 1883, Blackwell lived with her partner Elizabeth Cushier, who also served as a doctor at the infirmary.[3] Blackwell and Cushier retired at the turn of the century. After traveling abroad for a year and a half, they spent the next winters at their home in Montclair, New Jersey and summers in Maine.[4] Blackwell died on September 7, 1910 in York Cliffs, Maine, a few months after her sister Elizabeth's death in England.[5]

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