Two Sisters Who Changed the Medical Profession

Two Sisters Who Changed the Medical Profession

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It's tempting to presume a clear line between intention and accomplishment, but Janice P. Nimura, in her enthralling new book, "The Doctors Blackwell," tells the story of two sisters who became feminist figures almost in spite of themselves.

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, in 1849, and she later enlisted her younger sister Emily to join her. Together they ran the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children and founded a women's medical college - even though, as Nimura puts it, opening a separate school for women was just about the last thing they had planned to do.

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