Monday, November 24, 2014
Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler-1st African-American woman to become a physician in the United States.
Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was an American physician. Rebecca Lee was the 1st African-American woman to become a physician in the United States. She married Dr. Arthur Crumpler after the Civil War. Her publication of A Book of Medical Discourses in 1883 was one of the 1st written by an African American about medicine. In 1831, Rebecca Davis Lee was born in Delaware to Matilda Webber and Absolum Davis. During the antebellum years, medical care for poor blacks was almost non-existent. She moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts by 1852 and was employed as a nurse until she was accepted into the New England Female Medical College in 1860. It was rare for women or black men to be admitted to medical schools during this time. When she graduated in 1864, Rebecca Lee (later Crumpler) was the 1st African American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree, and the only African American woman to graduate from New England Female Medical College. Crumpler first practiced medicine in Boston, primarily for poor women and children. During this time she "sought training in the 'British Dominion'". Rebecca married Dr. Arthur Crumpler around the time of her graduation, but by the time she moved back to Boston. Her neighborhood on Joy Street in Beacon Hill was a predominantly African American community. She "entered into the work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment; regardless, in a measure, of remuneration." The Rebecca Lee Society, one of the 1st medical societies for African American women, was named in her honor.