Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree and in the process challenged the prejudice that prevented African Americans from pursuing careers in medicine.
Born in Delaware in 1831, Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was raised by an aunt who spent much of her time caring for sick neighbors which influenced Crumpler’s career path. She worked as a nurse for 8 years before being accepted to the New England Female Medical College in 1860.
Graduating in 1864, she first practiced medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. However, after the Civil War ended, she saw a great need for medical services in the postwar South. Crumpler based herself in Richmond, Virginia and took part in missionary work providing urgent medical care to freed slaves. She worked in Richmond for many years before returning to Boston later in life.
The little that we do know about Crumpler is learned from the introduction of her book published in 1883 titled A Book of Medical Discourses where you can read about her remarkable achievements as a physician and medical writer.
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