Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD
Posted on 02/01/2022
Rebecca Crumpler

In 1864, after years as a nurse, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first & only, black woman in the United States to receive an MD degree. She earned that distinction at the New England Female Medical College in Boston, Massachusetts — where she also was the institution’s only black graduate. After the Civil War, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she worked with other black doctors who were caring for formerly enslaved people in the Freedmen’s Bureau. While she faced sexism and other forms of harassment, Crumpler ultimately found the experience transformative. "I returned to my former home, Boston, where I entered into the work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment; regardless, in a measure, of remuneration," she wrote.

Crumpler also wrote A Book of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts. Published in 1883, the book addresses children’s and women’s health and is written for “mothers, nurses, and all who may desire to mitigate the afflictions of the human race.” Let us applaud her courage, perseverance and pioneering achievements. She is an inspiration to all who face adversity, seek diversity, and forge the path forward. Her passion “to mitigate the afflictions of the human race” was Rebecca’s gift and historic legacy.


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