Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, 200th Anniversary Legacy Campaign

Upstate Medical University’s campaign to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell during the 200th year anniversary of her birth. The Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, Legacy Fund will be used to support a number of enduring programs and artifacts related to her life and contributions.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell is a celebrated alumna of Upstate Medical University, the first woman to attend medical school and receive a medical degree in the United States, graduating from Upstate’s founding institution, the Geneva Medical College, in 1849. At the time, medical schools in the United States did not admit women. After being rejected by 29 medical schools, Blackwell was accepted by Geneva Medical College. The faculty thought it would be a joke to allow the medical students to make the decision about her admission, and all 150 male students unanimously voted to do so. No one thought it was a joke when she graduated at the top of her class and the dean bowed to her at graduation. She went on to undertake other firsts, including founding the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, which also served as a nurse’s training facility, and collaborated with Florence Nightingale and four others to establish the first medical school for women in England, the London School of Medicine for Women. Blackwell was involved in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, both very active in upstate New York at the time. Blackwell represents Upstate’s mission “to improve the health of the communities we serve through education, biomedical research and patient care,” and its values, including innovation, respect, integrity, teamwork, diversity and inclusion. Her resilience and commitment to the profession and to the indigent continue to inspire us. We are proud of her legacy and wish to provide additional tangible evidence of it.

The Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, Legacy Fund

The Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, Legacy Fund will provide support to:

  • Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, scholarships for Upstate students who embody her resilience, passion, and service to the indigent and to community health;
  • a sculpture of Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, to be placed on the university grounds;
  • a campaign to name the Health Science Library in Blackwell’s name;
  • an enduring annual lectureship during the month of her birth; and
  • a live and virtual Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, exhibition sponsored by the Health Science Library.

Giving Levels

Thank you for considering a gift to the Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, Legacy Fund.

  • $25,000 and above – Elizabeth Blackwell Society
  • $10,000 to $24,999 – Sarah Loguen Society
  • $5,000 to $9,999 – President’s Society
  • $2,500 to $4,999 – Platinum Society
  • $1,000 to $2,499 – Gold Society 
  • $500 to $999 – Silver Society
  • $100 to $499 – Century Society

For additional information, please contact: 

  • Lynn Cleary, MD (clearyl@upstate.edu)
  • Paul Norcross (norcrosp@upstate.edu)
  • Patricia Numann, MD (numannp@upstate.edu)
  • Eileen Pezzi, MPA (pezzie@upstate.edu


Medical scholar/medical student Owanate Kio-Amieyeofori narrated this story-time video on Elizabeth Blackwell.




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