Black History—Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

As the first African American woman to receive a Medical Degree (MD) in the United States, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler challenged the prejudice that prevented African Americans and women from pursuing medical careers. Despite her achievements, very little is known about Dr. Crumpler and her life story is still being written.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born Rebecca Davis in 1831 in Christiana, Delaware to Absolum Davis and Matilda Webber. Her childhood was spent with an aunt in Pennsylvania. Her aunt frequently cared for sick neighbors, and Crumpler accompanied her aunt on these trips. In her book, published in 1883, Crumpler wrote these experiences with her aunt inspired her to go into medicine. Crumpler wrote, “Having been reared by a kind aunt in Pennsylvania, whose usefulness with the sick was continually sought, I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to be in a position to relieve the sufferings of others.”

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