New plaque unveiled to commemorate the work of Elizabeth Blackwell
7 June 2018
A new plaque has been unveiled in New York to honour Elizabeth Blackwell, one of Bristol's most influential daughters and the first female doctor in America.
Elizabeth Blackwell founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children 161 years ago, and now a plaque at that site of the ‘first hospital for, staffed and run by women’ commemorates her medical achievements.
“It’s wonderful that Elizabeth Blackwell has been recognised in this way. Her outstanding contribution in the field of healthcare both in the US and here in the UK made her a truly inspirational figure. She was a pioneer, instrumental in many campaigns for reform, launching numerous innovative health schemes and a tireless worker for health care. She exemplifies the spirit of what our Institute is today striving to achieve.” Rachael Gooberman-Hill, Director of Elizabeth Blackwell Institute.
At the plaque dedication ceremony on 21 May 2018, Blackwell’s Great Grand-Niece, Carey Bloomfield, was joined by women’s studies experts and practicing clinicians to honour Elizabeth Blackwell. Historians from Hobart William Smith College (formally Geneva College, where Elizabeth got her medical degree) and the Schlesinger Library at Harvard spoke, along with the Chair of the Department of Medicine at the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.
Speaking of the event Carey Bloomfield, Great Grand-Niece of Elizabeth Blackwell (pictured right) said: “I grew up hearing stories of Aunt Elizabeth’s remarkable medical career and have always wondered exactly where her Infirmary for Women and Children was located on the lower east side of Manhattan. It meant a great deal to me to see the exact spot. I think Elizabeth would be deeply touched to know that her trail-blazing efforts to meet the medical needs of poor women and children are remembered in the handsome plaque on the side of the modest brick house at 58 Bleecker Street.
"She also would be amazed to know that the small clinic and hospital that she and her sister Emily started live on today in the form of the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. Our family is deeply grateful to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation for helping to keep the memory of Elizabeth’s pioneering work alive.”
Also attending the unveiling was Janice Nimura (pictured left), recipient of a 2017 Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the humanities in support of her current work in progress: a biography of Elizabeth Blackwell and Emily Blackwell. The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute were delighted to host Janice in March 2018 while she was on Elizabeth Blackwell research tour of the UK