Who is Rebecca Lee Crumpler? Rebecca Lee was the first female African-American doctor in the United States. Rebecca was born in Delaware on February 8, 1831, and grew up in Pennsylvania. Rebecca was a very gifted girl, she attended the affluent private school named West- Newton English & Classical School in Massachusetts. During her time at West-Newton English & Classical School Rebecca was known as the,”special student.” In 1852, Rebecca moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she worked as a nurse. Rebecca was not satisfied working as a nurse, she wanted more. In hopes of furthering her education, Rebecca applied to medical school, and was accepted into the New England Female Medical College in Boston.
This college was attached to the New England Hospital for Women and Children. During this time there were only 300 female doctors compared to 54,543 male physicians, and out of those 300 female doctors, not one was a women of color. The medicalprogram was founded by Drs.
Samuel Gregory and IsrealTisdale Talbot in 1848. During this time only twelve women were accepted into this program. Many male physicians complained that women were not qualified to practice medicine, because they were physically weaker than males. This debatemade Rebecca’s journey challenging.
Luckily, Dr. Talbot, and Dr. Gregory ignored this ignorant debate. During her college journey Rebecca had to do intense coursework for 17 weeks, consisting of 30-40 hours per week. Which was followed by a two-year apprenticeship. Rebecca finished and became the first African-American New England Female graduate in 1864. After the death of her first husband Wyatt lee, who Rebecca was married to for eleven years she married Arthur Crumpler in 1864 after her graduation. After the Civil war in 1865, the Crumpler’s moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she found, “The proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children.
” During her missionary work she worked under the aegis of general Orlando Brown, the Assistant commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau of the state of Virginia. The federal agency helped more than 4,000,000 slaves transition from slavery to freedom. Rebecca ignored all the hate fromracism, uncouth behavior, and sexism from her colleagues and many others. She then wrote, “A very large number of the indigent, and others of different classes, in a population of over 30,000 colored.
” In 1869, the Crumpler’s came back to Boston and lived in apredominately African-American neighborhood in Beacon Hills, where Rebecca continued to practice medicine. A few years laterin 1880, the couple moved again to Hyde Park, New York. After practicing medicine, Rebecca wrote a book called “A Book of Medical Discourses in the Parts”. This book was divided into two sections; the beginning of the book focuses on, “treating the cause, prevention, and cure of infantile bowel complaints, from birth to the fifth year.
” The next section of the book contains, “miscellaneous information concerning the life and growth the life and growth of beings, the beginning of womanhood, also the cause, prevention, and cure of the most distressing complaints of women, and youth of both sexes.” Rebecca, the first African-American female Doctor in the United States dedicated her book, “to mothers, nurses, and all who may desire to mitigate the afflictions of human race.” Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler died on March 9, 1895, in Hyde Park.
Leaving behind a legacy, Rebecca was an extraordinary African-American woman, during a time when women did not have a voice, only men, especially woman of color. I applaud her for her empathy, determination, tenacity, and ground-breaking achievements.