18 January 2024 • FacultySTEM Blackwell's 175th Graduation Anniversary

Graduate became a medical pioneer and helped open career paths for women. 

On January 23, 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell made history by becoming the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States after graduating from Geneva Medical College, a department of Geneva College, now Hobart and William Smith. 

Professor of Art and Architecture Ted Aub, an internationally recognized sculptor who has been awarded numerous public sculpture commissions in the United States, Korea and China, created the Elizabeth Blackwell bronze sculpture that graces the Quad. Aub reflects on Blackwell’s achievement on the 175th anniversary of her historic graduation.  

“The significance of her achievement is profound,” says Aub. “Opening the door to, in effect, all professions for women, not just medicine, was an act of courage. Upon her arrival, she was mocked by the students, at first, and shunned by the community of Geneva. But in the end, she was victorious. She graduated first in her class, was admired by her classmates and the town turned out to see the historic occasion of her graduation and to wish her well. She was a rockstar, albeit a humble one. It is a great American story and an important one culturally.”

Following her graduation, Blackwell founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in New York City and aided in the creation of its medical college. She left the U.S. for England where she founded the National Health Society, was the first woman to be placed on the British Medical Register and taught at the country’s first college of medicine for women. She pioneered in preventive medicine and in the promotion of antisepsis and hygiene and was responsible for the first chair of hygiene in any medical college.

To learn more about Dr. Blackwell visit here

Top and side: The Elizabeth Blackwell statue on the Quad was created by Professor of Art and Architecture Ted Aub in 1994.