Rebecca Lee Crumpler: A Book Of Medical Discourses

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Rebecca Lee Crumpler is a woman that history knows little of other than her degree and the little she wrote about herself in the beginning of a book. What makes this woman so important to history, and so important to me, is that Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to earn an M.D. degree in the United States, and one of the first African Americans to write a book of medical advice.
Crumpler, born in Delaware in 1831, was raised by her aunt in Pennsylvania. Crumpler’s aunt was a woman who spent much of her time caring for sick neighbors and friends. In the beginning of her book, A Book of Medical Discourses, she explained that being surrounded by the work of her aunt is what made her form a liking to relieving the suffering of others, which is what pushed her to go into medicine. Crumpler became a nurse, a profession that did not require formal education in that time, and cared for patients in Massachusetts for eight years. She was eventually admitted to the New England Female Medical college in 1860, and graduated in 1864. She was the first and only African American to graduate the school due to it closing in 1873.
Crumpler practiced medicine in Boston until the end of the Civil War, after which she chose to move to Richmond, Virginia. Virginia was where she believed she would be able to help more people and learn more about the diseases that afflicted women and children. Working closely with the Freedmen’s Bureau and other African American physicians,

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