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Elizabeth Blackwell and Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Elizabeth Blackwell’s graduation as the first woman Doctor of Medicine in America is one of the proudest moments in the history of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, taking place as it did in the medical department of Hobart College’s precursor institution, Geneva College. The fact that the story began, in part, as a schoolboy prank diminishes in no way the power of its memory. The legacy of Dr. Blackwell remains central to the coordinate community at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, representing a historic moment in medicine and women's liberation.

The example of Doctor Blackwell has been perpetuated in many ways. In 1949, Hobart and William Smith Colleges celebrated the 100th anniversary of her graduation by making Elizabeth Blackwell Centennial Awards to 12 internationally famous women doctors. In 1974, the Colleges joined with the United States Postal Service in holding first-day-of-issue ceremonies for an 18-cent stamp depicting "Elizabeth Blackwell: First Woman Physician."

Blackwell in Residence. The Legacy of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree, has been immortalized in a sculpture created by Professor of Art A.E. Ted Aub. This Pulteney Street Survey Article describes the process (Photo: Geneva Brinton).


And, in 1958, Hobart College for men — one of whose most illustrious graduates is a woman — and William Smith College for women — whose first residence hall, still in use, was named Blackwell House — joined in the creation of the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. Since then, 28 distinguished women from around the world have been honored with the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, for outstanding service to humanity. A section of this website is devoted to this award, and the recipients that bear its honor.

In 1994, the Colleges dedicated a sculpture of Blackwell as a young woman, by Professor of Art A.E. Ted Aub, on the Hobart Quadrangle. An article that appeared in the Fall '94 issue of Hobart and William Smith's alumni magazine, The Pulteney Street Survey details the making of this sculpture.