Image via Google/Harriet Lee Merrion
By Jamie Ducharme
Updated: February 3, 2018 1:15 PM ET

Google is celebrating Elizabeth Blackwell’s 197th birthday on Feb. 3 with a Google Doodle tribute.

The Google Doodle shows Blackwell, a pioneer of medical and feminist history, at a desk covered with books, medical supplies and a classic leather doctor’s bag. The sketch was drawn by Harriet Lee Merrion, who lives in the town where Blackwell was born almost two centuries ago, according to an announcement from Google.

Here’s what to know about Elizabeth Blackwell on her birthday.

(Original Caption) Head and shoulders portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the first woman (in 1849), to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Undated photograph.
Bettmann—Bettmann Archive

Elizabeth Blackwell Biography

Blackwell, who would go on to become the first woman in America to earn a medical degree, was born in Bristol, England, in 1821. Her family immigrated to the U.S. about 10 years later, settling in Ohio, according to the National Women’s History Museum.

Originally a teacher, Blackwell decided to pursue medicine after a dying friend told her she wished she had a female doctor, according to the Women’s History Museum. Despite the fact that medical schools did not accept women at the time, Blackwell applied and eventually attended New York’s Geneva College. After graduating, she and one of her sisters, who also became a doctor, went on to open the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the Women’s History Museum writes.

Later in her career, Blackwell also opened a women’s medical school in New York City, became a professor of gynecology in London and wrote extensively, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Elizabeth Blackwell Facts

  • Blackwell’s acceptance to Geneva College was intended as a practical joke, according to the Women’s History Museum. She was rejected everywhere else she applied.
  • After medical school, Blackwell sought further training in Paris, according to Britannica. While there, she contracted an eye disease that left her blind in one eye, dashing her hopes of becoming a surgeon.
  • When she was a schoolteacher in Kentucky, Blackwell cemented herself as an abolitionist by running a Sunday school for slaves, Google writes.
  • Florence Nightingale, the legendary British nurse, helped Blackwell hatch the plan to open her women’s medical college in New York, Britannica says.
  • In 1974, the U.S. Postal Service honored Blackwell’s achievements and contributions to history with a commemorative stamp.

Elizabeth Blackwell Quotes

  • “It’s not easy to be a pioneer — but oh, is it fascinating!”
  • “My whole life is devoted unreservedly to the service of my sex. The study and practice of medicine is in my thought but one means to a great end…the true ennoblement of woman.”
  • “If society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled.”

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