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Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett.

LETTER: Autograph letter signed, to Elizabeth Blackwell.

Letter(s)

ANDERSON TO BLACKWELL
Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett. Autograph letter signed, to Elizabeth Blackwell, February 7, 1871; two
pages.
In this hasty letter, Garrett Anderson - the first woman to gain a medical qualification in the United
Kingdom - expresses frustration at not being able to obtain any tubes of lymph. She also mentions her
upcoming February 9, 1871 wedding ceremony at the Presbyterian Church on London's Upper George
Street, to James George Skelton Anderson, director of the Orient Line. At the time Anderson was added
to the Medical Register in 1866, Blackwell was the only other woman admitted to medical practice in the
UK, having been named to the Register in 1859.
Anderson was the founder of the first hospital staffed by medically qualified women, the first female
mayor in England, and sister to suffragist and feminist Millicent Garrett Fawcett. She was inspired to
pursue medical training in 1859, after meeting Blackwell at one of her lectures. Specifically excluded by
the charters of all British universities from attending medical school because of her gender, she found a
loophole with the Society of Apothecaries, and became licensed in that field in 1865. She went on to
receive her M.D. in Paris in 1870. Like Blackwell, she opened a dispensary that grew into a hospital: the
New Hospital for Women, where she alone was surgeon for 20 years. In 1883, she became dean of the
London School of Medicine for Women, and served as mayor of Aldeburgh from 1908-1909.
The letter reads in full:
20 Uppr. B[erkeley]. St.[,] Tuesday [February 7, 1871]
Dear Dr. Blackwell
I have no lymph for you; am driven to my wits' end & beyond for it, for my own people.
The medical officer to the Privy Council, 8 Richmond Terrace, wd send you a tube if you liked to
have it from him.
We are to be married at the Scotch Church, Uppr. George St. Bryanston Sq at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Yours affc.
E. Garrett
Blackwell was the first female doctor in the U.S. A British-born American immigrant, she was the sisterin-
law of Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown, and aunt of Alice Stone Blackwell. In 1847, she applied to
the Geneva Medical School in New York, and was accepted, supposedly when her application was taken
to be a joke. Nevertheless, she was allowed to enter the class and graduated in 1849, becoming the first
woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. Blackwell continued her studies in Paris &
London. Returning to New York in 1851, she was not permitted to practice medicine, so began lecturing,
and in 1853, along with her sister Emily and Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, founded the New York Infirmary for
Indigent Women and Children. At this time, she pioneered medical training for women and travelled
Europe speaking on the opportunities for women in the field. In 1859, she became the first woman to be
entered on Britain's Medical Register. Returning to America, Blackwell set up a medical school at the
Infirmary, and in 1868 or 1869, returned to London, where she began to practice medicine. She helped
establish the National Health Society of London and the London School of Medicine for Women.
Haines, Catharine M. C. International Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary to 1950.
Roth, Nathan. "The Personalities of Two Pioneer Medical Women: Elizabeth Blackwell and
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson." Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, January 1971,
47(1): 67-79.
(#4657103)

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