Woman of the Week: Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D.

This week’s woman of the week is Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler. She was the first African American woman to earn an M.D. in the United States.
Crumpler was born in 1831 in Delaware. She attended the New England Female Medical School (now Boston University School of Medicine) and graduated with a degree in 1864. After practicing in Boston, Crumpler moved to post-Civil War Richmond Virginia to care for freed slaves.
Her book, Book of Medical Discourses, published in 1883, was one of the first medical publications written by an African American. While almost no information survives Crumpler,  in her book we learn about her drive and compassion to help others. She wrote, “It may be well to state here that, having been reared by a kind aunt in Pennsylvania, whose usefulness with the sick was continually sought, I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to relieve the sufferings of others.”

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