A DOCTOR ALONE by Peggy Chambers
Kirkus Star


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Not since Rachel Baker's excellent and stirring First Woman Doctor (Messner 1914- and still available) has there been a biography for young people of this pioneer not only in the field of medicine, but in the battle for women's rights to perform according to their capacities. Elizabeth Blackwell's crusade was, paradoxically enough, fought in part to protect feminine modesty, for it was the remark of a woman patient, deploring the indignities of examination by indelicate male doctors that sparked her interest in a career in medicine. English born, and educated in an unusual atmosphere of equal opportunities for boys and girls in the family, she found the strictures of Cincinnati and the South- when they came to America- confining. Her decision to study medicine, her difficulties in winning acceptance- both as a student and as a practitioner- provide a history of struggle and conflict against conventions. At best her ambition was treated as a joke, at worst she was virtually crucified. The period was pre-Civil War; Florence Nightingale's career in England almost exactly paralleled hers in America; the climate of opinion was beginning to warm to their ideas. So despite the obstacles, and the resistance of patients, and the partial blindness from which she suffered, Elizabeth Blackwell - and her sister-established in NYC the Woman's Infirmary. When she died at 89, she was heralded as outstanding in the medical profession. A thorough and intelligent biography which involves- in its handling of the psychological background- more than the purely factual, historical approach of the average junior biography.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1958
Publisher: Abelard Schuman