Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Elizabeth Blackwell: America’s First Woman Doctor

Elizabeth Blackwell: America’s First Woman Doctor

Trina Robbins
Illustrator:  Cynthia Martin , Anne Timmons 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 6 to 9
Capstone Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0736864978

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in England and was educated at home with her eight siblings. In 1832 when she was eleven years old her family left England to make a new beginning in the United States. After her father died Elizabeth determined that she would do what she could to support her family. Elizabeth and her family started a school for girls and Elizabeth faithfully taught her students even though she disliked teaching.

Then one day Elizabeth visited a friend of hers who was dying of cancer. The friend commented on how much she wished she had had a female doctor to attend her. The friend then suggested that Elizabeth should consider studying medicine. At first the idea appalled Elizabeth but then she grew to like the idea of having a profession which would make it possible for her to “serve others and challenge myself.”

With the support of her family Elizabeth set about raising the money to pay for medical school and educating herself about the human body as much as she could in the meantime. By 1847, after several years of hard work being a teacher, Elizabeth had enough money to pay for the university fees. Unfortunately her troubles were not over for she now had to find a medical school which would be willing to accept a woman student. Finally she was accepted at Geneva Medical College and her journey towards becoming a doctor truly began.

Today it is difficult to imagine how hard it was for Elizabeth Blackwell to get the people in her world to agree to her becoming a doctor. Even after she had proved how clever and capable she was, she still had to convince would-be patients that she could take good care of them.

Written with obvious empathy and understanding of Elizabeth’s situation, this biography serves as an excellent introduction to Elizabeth Blackwell’s life and work. The graphic rich comic book style format makes it very accessible to young readers.