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Meet Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the First Black Doctor to Earn a Medical Degree

By becoming the first African-American woman to earn an MD, Rebecca Lee Crumpler (born Rebecca Davis) paved the way for countless future physicians and medical professionals of color. Though Rebecca Cole was previously credited with this distinction, it was, in fact, Crumpler who earned this honor in 1864 (three years before Cole). Born in Delaware in 1831 , Crumpler’s parents were Absolum Davis and Matilda Weber. However, she was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania — a woman who cared for neighbors who had fallen ill. It’s believed that the time under her aunt’s care may have influenced her career choice. She moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1852 and worked as a nurse from 21 until 29. She did so without formal training as the first nursing school would not open until 1873. She also married Wyatt Lee, a former slave, shortly after she arrived in Charleston. Her efforts helped her gain acceptance and win a scholarship to the New England Female Medical College in 1860. During...


Feb 12, 2021