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Boston University School of Medicine was the first accredited coeducational medical school in the United States in 1848. At the time it was called “Boston Female Medical Collage, changing to “New England Medical Education Society” in 1851. It started with just 12 students and two professors. It went on to not only graduate women, but also women of minority races such as Rebecca Lee Crumpler. In 1873, after a fire destroying the school, the New England Medical Education Society merged with Boston University creating “Boston University School of Medicine”, an institution that taught men, women, and minorities alike.


In the mid 1800’s educational options for women were expanding and women were being trained as mid-wife’s and nurses. Required previous schooling that included OBGYN training. When the women initially graduated they were called “Doctress of Medicine”. The women doctors did not like the title and was eventually swapped to “Doctor of Medicine”. The college started with only two professors, one named Dr. Samuel Gregory, who headed the school until his death in the late 1800’s. By 1854, the first women graduated with a degree of Doctor of Medicine, first women to do so from Boston institution.

By the time it was 1856 the schools established state scholarships. The hospital was seen as a clinical setting for students in midwifery and diseases of women and children. In 1859 the college combined and made a small hospital in combination to the school. At the time it was the largest hospital for women and children in the US at the time, it had 12 beds. The school was flourishing, until the Boston Fire of 1870, when the New England Female Medical College almost vanished.

The fire destroyed the school, and the college could not come up with the funds to pay off damages or continue education female doctors. The school was almost bought by Harvard. Though, Harvard did not wish to continue to to admit minorities or women. Then, in 1872 a new school decided to assume the debt. This school was Boston University. BU continued to admit women, minorities, but added men. This combination made the third co-ed medical school at the time. Boston University School of Medicine was formed. By 1887 men and women alike could work at the Boston City Hospital for clinical work.

            The early New England Female Medical College graduate an African American woman by the name of Rebecca Lee Crumpler. Crumpler, after receiving her “Doctor of Medicine” traveled to post civil war Richmond. She took care of 10,000 freed slaves living in tents in the outskirts. She then also went on to write a medical textbook focusing on pediatrics and OB. Other notable minority alumni include the first Native American physician, Charles Eastman, graduated from BUSM in 1890. Then in 1897 the first African American psychiatrist Solomon Carter Fuller graduated BUSM. More recently, Susan Leeman, Ph.D., was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for endocrinologist and research in neuroendocrinology in 1991.

"Alumni Medical Library: BUSM Historical Timeline." HLS [ Muscle Tissue, Skeletal Muscle, Banding Patterns] MED MAG. Accessed October 04, 2018. http://medlib.bu.edu/generic/timeline.php.

II, Edgar B. Herwick. "The 'Doctresses Of Medicine': The World's 1st Female Medical School Was Established In Boston." News. November 04, 2016. Accessed October 04, 2018. https://www.wgbh.org/news/2016/11/04/how-we-live/doctresses-medicine-worlds-1st-female-medical-school-was-established-boston.

"History." Boston University School of Medicine. Accessed October 04, 2018. https://www.bumc.bu.edu/busm/about/history/.