Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Remarkable Woman by Tanya Hanson

In the unenlightened past, male physicians who practiced obstetrics and gynecology were often scorned by their male peers as “midwives”. Yet even they were suspicious of allowing women to become physicians, even to treat “their own.”

Fortunately, Dr. Samuel Gregory in 1848 founded the New England Female Medical College, the first in the world to offer medical training to women. No surprise, Dr. Gregory had difficulty finding funding and instructors, but the college eventually trained more than 280 students and granted 98 medical degrees. In 1874, the school merged with Boston University School of Medicine.

One of its most amazing graduates was Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, the first African American woman to be granted a medical degree.

Born in Delaware on February 8, 1831, Rebecca was raised by an aunt who often helped sick friends and neighbors. In 1852, she moved to Charlestown Massachusetts and worked as a nurse with various doctors until 1860. These professionals all gave her letters of the highest recommendation upon her entrance to the medical college. To quote Rebecca, she “received the degree of doctress of medicine” in 1864.

About this time, she married Dr. Arthur Crumpler

When the Civil War ended, she moved to Virginia and joined other black physicians caring for freed slaves in the Richmond area, herself experiencing intense racism. She bore with grace insults such as the M.D. after her name meant “Mule Driver.”

Eventually, she returned to Boston, caring mostly for women and children. However, demand for her services began to wane. In 1883, she published one of the very first medical books by an African American. The Book of Medical Discourses is based on the extensive notes she took during her years of practice, on health issues and care specifically for women and children.

She dedicated her book to nurses and mothers.

Dr. Crumpler died March 9, 1895. One of the first medical societies for African American women, The Rebecca Lee Society, was named in her honor.

Caught between a noose and a cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything possible to prove his brother’s innocence...even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. He needs every nugget and flake he can pull from her worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife. Save his brother and he’ll be back on the Texas cattle trails. God, and trusting Him, are things of the past.

Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last mysterious outsider in the valley. Faith? That’s wavered, too, after too many family tragedies. But she has no choice but to wed the handsome Tull. He bears terrible family secrets that need to be kept behind closed doors. Although she’s eager to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatments for her wounded brother, her unwanted marriage douses her plans, yet stirs up hope and love for Tull...and begins to fortify her weakened faith.

Can the two of them find a future--and faith--together even with their haunted pasts? 

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  1. Interesting post, Tanya. I enjoyed your story Claiming His Heart. Different premise and location from what we see so much of.

  2. Amazing story! Love that she had that opportunity at that time, not only as a woman, but as a woman of color, too.

    Thanks for sharing that with us.

    1. Angie, I so appreciate you stopping by. I stumbled upon Rebecca's history kind of randomly. I think we should learn about her in school! Xo

  3. Hi Linda, thanks sooo muck for your kind words. Holcomb Valley has always been a favorite place of mine....really speaks to me.Hugs!!

  4. I love hearing about 19th Century female doctors. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I loved Rebecca's story, Anna Kathryn. So inspiring. Thanks for stopping by today? Xo

  6. Tanya, thank you for your intriguing post. One of the lateral relations in my family was an early woman osteopath who went on to have a hospital near the Texas coast. Rebecca sounds like a heroic woman.

    Best wishes for CLAIMING HIS HEART.

  7. Hi Caroline, the more I learn about prejudice against women in the past, the more I want to SCREAM. Grrrrr I grew up with a great dad, two brothers and tons of uncles and boy cousins and all of them wanted us girls to succeed. Sheesh. Glad I was born when I was LOL.

    Thanks so much for the comment and good wishes today.

  8. Tanya, I am so glad you posted about Rebecca. I can't even imagine the obstacles she faced, being a woman AND being black! And how hard it must have been to have the knowledge and skills and for people to not ask for help because of those two things!

    I love Claiming His Heart, too. One of these days very soon, I'm hoping to see Reno and Bronx's stories. I know you've got them plotted.

    Thanks for a very interesting blog post. I had no idea. You know my gr gr gr grandfather was sent to medical school--he was full blood Indian and given to white people to raise (assimilation) and they sent him to medical school. He was a man, but still, I imagine he faced many of the prejudices Rebecca faced, being a person of color.



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