Blackwell family

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, second row in the black hat and
dress, gathers with her family at Martha's Vineyard in 1906.

A Glimpse into Blackwell's Private Life

Recent acquisitions to the Colleges’ archives of personal letters and family photos of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) provide a rare glimpse into the personal life of HWS’ most celebrated alumna. Among several copies of well-known published works of the first woman in America to receive a medical degree, these new pieces share the story of Dr. Blackwell’s private life through letters discussing her hopes for her adopted daughter Katherine “Kitty” Barry (1848-1936), a note to her mother Hannah Lane Blackwell (1792-1870) in reference to gynecological issues she learned her mother was experiencing from her sister Dr. Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), and her opposition to suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s stance on marriage. In total, Hobart and William Smith received a collection of 18 letters, two postcards and 14 books and pamphlets written by Blackwell and her family members, as well as 15 family photos with at least two featuring the rarely photographed Dr. Blackwell. The pieces, acquired primarily from the estate of her niece Alice Stone Blackwell (1857- 1950), are being catalogued and processed by HWS Archives in the Warren Hunting Smith Library with plans for future displays.

A special thanks to fine arts gallery owner Edward T. Pollack ’55 of Portland, Maine, for his assistance in making these acquisitions possible.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.