Feb. 24: Rebecca Lee Crumpler is the First Black Woman to Earn a Medical Degree

Every day during the month of February, WPGC will feature an important moment in Black history.  These daily vignettes are read by local children in the District and surrounding areas.

On Feb. 24, 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree.  After seeing her neighbors and friends with near non-existent medical care in her neighborhood, Crumpler moved to Charlestown, Mass. in an effort to learn the medical profession.  She was accepted into the New England Female Medical College in 1860, which was a rare feat.  When she graduated, she focused mainly on poor women and children until she moved to Virginia to focus on missionary work.  Though she had left the medical field by1883, she stayed interested in the field and wrote A Book of Medical Discourses using old medical notes from her journey through the ranks.

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