That Bessie Blount Griffin became a inventor, physical therapist, business women, forensics expert and social activist before she passed on in 2009 is all the more remarkable, given that she was born in an era before women — particularly African American women — could expect opportunities in any one of the multiple fields in which she ultimately succeeded. Her life is a lesson in tenacity, irrepressible creativity and a deep sense of empathy for the people and causes she helped.
You may not know her name, but this Wednesday’s Woman, Dr. Virginia Apgar, touched the lives of everyone born in the United States after 1952 within moments of their birth with a simple test that changed the field of neonatology forever.
Over her lifetime, Dorothea Lynde Dix became a famed advocate for more humane and effective treatment of mental illness in the United States and Europe. When she began her life’s work in the first half of the 19th century, victims of mental illness were viewed with fear and annoyance; the only solution was to “put them away” in hellish lunatic asylums. By the time she died in 1887, Dix had touched countless lives with campaigns that moved state and federal governments to begin recognizing mental illness as an illness rather than a moral weakness.
The idea that “it was only an Indian and it did not matter” if a person received adequate medical care or not changed the life of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915), the first Native American woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. Continue reading “Susan La Flesche Picotte: America’s First Native American Doctor”
Elizabeth Blackwell, MD., was America’s first formally accredited female doctor. Admitted to medical school as a joke, she proved she who laughs last, laughs best. Continue reading “Elizabeth Blackwell, MD: America’s First Formally Accredited Female Physician”