Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Couterslip in 1821. The Blackwell family relocated to the United States in 1832. When her father died suddenly in 1838, her mother, along with her three daughters, founded a private school in order to provide for themselves. Blackwell applied to study medicine but was rejected from all the schools on account of her being a woman. She did not give up and was finally accepted by Geneva College in New York.
In 1849 Blackwell finished her studies there as the first female American doctor. In 1854 she published a collection of works on hygiene ("The Laws of Life, with Special Reference to the Physical Eduction of Girls"). In 1857, the three female doctors, Elizabeth Blackwell, her sister, and Marie Zakrezwska founded the university hospital "Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary".
They provided the only opportunity for women to become doctors. In 1869 Blackwell left the hospital to her successors and returned to England, where she founded the National Health Society in 1871, which is the forerunner of today's National Health Services. There she, along with Florence Nightingale, educated young female nurses and doctors at the London School of Medicine for Women.
Blackwell retreated more and more from her practice and in 1875 devoted herself to writing books. Elizabeth Blackwell died in Scotland in 1910.