Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler (Photo in the public domain)

In 1864, when Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler (1831–1895) graduated from the New England Female Medical College, she became, it is believed, the first black woman physician. Born in Christiana, Delaware, she was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania—an aunt who gave much of her time caring for sick neighbors. She later moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she worked as a nurse for eight years before entering the medical college and becoming an M.D. She practiced medicine a short while in Boston before moving to Richmond, Virginia, in 1865, where she provided medical care to indigent individuals and freed slaves. She later returned to Boston, where she practiced medicine from her home on Joy Street, providing care for people in the streets and bringing children into her home for treatment. When she retired, she moved to Hyde Park, Boston, where she wrote the Book of Medical Discourses (1883), one of the first medical publications written by an African American.

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