Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to become a physician in the United States. She was also one of the first African Americans to have a medical publication, A Book of Medical Discourses, in 1883. Her aunt was her inspiration to pursue a career in the medical field, because she took care of their ill neighbors, since there was almost no medical care for poor blacks around that time. After graduation from the New England Female Medical College in 1864, she practiced in Boston until the Civil War Ended in 1865, and moved to Richmond, Virginia to become more versed in diseases of women and children. There she cared for freed slaves and worked with missionary and community groups, all while experiencing tremendous postwar racism. Little is known about Crumpler, except what is written in the introduction of her book, and no photos of her survive today.
This entry is part of MPL's National Women's History Month.