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Elizabeth Blackwell

所属教程:People in America 更新:03-23
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Anncr:

Every week we tell about someone important in the history of theUnited States. Today, Shirley Griffith and Ray Freeman tell aboutthe first Western woman in modern times to become a doctor. Now, thestory of Elizabeth Blackwell on the VOA Special English programPeople in America.

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VOICE 1:

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Bristol, England, ineighteen-twenty-one. Her parents, Hannah and Samuel Blackwell,believed strongly that all human beings are equal.

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Elizabeth's father owned asuccessful sugar company. He worked hard at his job. He also workedto support reforms in England. He opposed the slave trade. He triedto help improve low pay and poor living conditions of workers. Andhe wanted women to have the same chance for education as men.

He carried this out in his own home. Elizabeth had three brothersand four sisters. All followed the same plan of education. They allstudied history, mathematics, Latin and Greek. These subjects werenormally taught only to boys. Friends asked Samuel Blackwell what heexpected the girls to do with all that education. He answered, "Theyshall do what they please."

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In eighteen-thirty-two, Samuel Blackwell's sugar factory wasdestroyed by fire. He and his wife decided to move the family to theUnited States. Elizabeth was eleven years old.

The Blackwells settled in New York City. But Mr. Blackwell'sbusiness there failed. The family moved west, to the city ofCincinnati, on the Ohio river.

Samuel Blackwell was sick for much of the trip. He died soonafter arriving in Ohio. To help support the family, Elizabeth andher two older sisters started a school for girls in their home. Twoyounger brothers found jobs.

In the next few years, Elizabeth's brothers became successful inbusiness. The girls continued operating their school. But Elizabethwas not happy. She did not like teaching.

Elizabeth began to visit a family friend who was suffering fromcancer. The woman knew she was dying. She said women should bepermitted to become doctors because they are good at helping sickpeople. The dying friend said that perhaps her sickness would havebeen better understood if she had been treated by a woman. And shesuggested that Elizabeth study medicine.

VOICE 1:

Elizabeth knew that no woman had ever been permitted to study ina medical school. But she began to think about the idea seriouslyafter the woman who had suggested it died.

Elizabeth discussed it with the family doctor. He was opposed.But her family supported the idea. So Elizabeth took a teaching jobin the southern state of North Carolina to earn money for medicalschool.

Another teacher there agreed to help her study the sciences shewould need. The next year, she studied medicine privately with adoctor. He was also a medical school professor. He told Elizabeththat the best medical schools were in Philadelphia.

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No medical school in Philadelphia would accept her. Collegeofficials told her she must go to Paris and pretend to be a man ifshe wanted to become a doctor. Elizabeth refused. She wrote to othermedical colleges -- Harvard, Yale, and other, less well-known ones.All rejected her ... except Geneva Medical College in the state ofNew York.

She went there immediately, but did not feel welcome. It was notuntil much later that she learned the reason: her acceptance was ajoke. The teachers at the college decided not to admit a woman. Butthey did not want to insult the doctor who had written to supportElizabeth's desire to study medicine. So they let the medicalstudents decide.

The male students thought it funny that a woman wanted to attendmedical school. So, as a joke, they voted to accept her. Theyregretted their decision by the time Elizabeth arrived, but therewas nothing they could do. She was there. She paid her money. Shewanted to study.

VOICE 1:

Elizabeth Blackwell faced many problems in medical school. Someprofessors refused to teach her. Some students threatened her. Butfinally they accepted her. Elizabeth graduated with high honors fromGeneva Medical School in eighteen-forty-nine. She was the only womanin the Western world to have completed medical school training.

Three months later, Doctor Elizabeth Blackwell went to Paris tolearn to be a surgeon she wanted to work in a hospital there tolearn how to operate on patients. But no hospital wanted her. No onewould recognize that she was a doctor.

A hospital for women and babies agreed to let her study there.But she had to do the tasks of a nursing student. At the hospital,doctor Blackwell accidentally got a chemical liquid in her eye. Itbecame infected. She became blind in that eye. So she was forced togive up her dreams of becoming a surgeon.

Instead, she went to London to study at Saint Bartholomew'sHospital. There, she met the famous nurse Florence Nightingale.

Elizabeth returned to the United States in eighteen-fifty-one.She opened a medical office in New York City. But no patients came.So Doctor Blackwell opened an office in a poor part of the city tohelp people who lived under difficult conditions. And she decided toraise a young girl who had lost her parents.

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Elizabeth Blackwell had many dreams. One was to start a hospitalfor women and children. Another was to build a medical school totrain women doctors. She was helped in these efforts by her youngersister Emily. Emily also had become a doctor, after a long struggleto be accepted in a medical school.

With the help of many people, the Blackwell sisters raised themoney to open a hospital in a re-built house. The work of the twowomen doctors was accepted slowly in New York they treated onlythree-hundred people in their hospital in its first year. Ten timesas many people were treated the second year.

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Elizabeth Blackwell's work with the poor led her to believe thatdoctors could help people more effectively by preventing sickness.She started a program in which doctors visited patients in theirhomes. The doctors taught patients how to clean the houses and howto prepare food so sickness could be prevented.

News of Elizabeth's theories spread. Soon, she was asked to starta hospital in London. She spoke to groups in London about diseaseprevention. And she worked with her friend Florence Nightingale.

Elizabeth returned to the United States to start America's firsttraining school for nurses. And in eighteen sixty-eight, she openedher medical college for women. She taught the women students aboutdisease prevention. It was the first time the idea of preventingdisease was taught in a medical school. Soon other medical schoolsfor women opened in Boston and Philadelphia.

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Elizabeth Blackwell felt her work in America was done. Shereturned to England. She started a medical school for women inLondon. She wrote books, and made speeches about preventing disease.

Doctor Blackwell talked of deaths that should never havehappened, of sickness that should never have been suffered. Shespoke about the dangers of working too hard, of eating poor food, ofhouses without light, of dirt and other causes of disease. And shetold doctors that their true responsibility was to prevent pain andsuffering from ever happening.

In eighteen-seventy-one, she started the British National HealthSociety. It helped people learn how to stay healthy.

VOICE 1:

Elizabeth Blackwell never married. Neither did her sisters. Theybelieved in treating men like equals. And they expected to betreated like equals themselves. Most men of that time did not acceptsuch treatment. This belief caused problems for their brothers too.They had trouble finding wives who wanted to be considered asequals.

Two of Elizabeth's brothers did marry, however. Both their wiveswere famous workers for the cause of women's rights.

VOICE 2:

Elizabeth Blackwell died in England in nineteen-ten. She waseighty-nine years old.

She was a very strong woman. She once wrote that she understoodwhy no woman before her had done what she did. She said it was hardto continue against every kind of opposition. Yet she kept onbecause she felt the goal was very important. Toward the end of herlife, she received many letters of thanks from young women. Onewrote that Doctor Blackwell had shown the way for women to move on.

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VOICE 1:

This Special English program was written by Nancy Steinbach. I'mShirley Griffith.

VOICE 2:

And I'm Ray Freeman. Join us again next week for another Peoplein America program on the Voice of America.

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