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Tue, 02.08.1831

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Physician born

Rebecca Lee Crumpler book

*Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born on this date in 1831. She was a Black physician and author.

Rebecca Davis Lee was born in Delaware to Matilda Webber and Absolum Davis. She was raised in Pennsylvania by an aunt who cared for infirm neighbors.  During the Antebellum years, medical care for poor Blacks was almost non-existent.  She moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1852 and was employed as a nurse until she was accepted into the New England Female Medical College in 1860.

When she graduated in 1864, Lee was the first Black woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree and the only Black woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical College.

Soon after certification, she married Arthur Crumpler, a former slave who had arrived in Boston in 1863. After the Civil War, she practiced in Richmond, Virginia. Later she returned to Boston with her husband and lived in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. There was not a great demand for her service in the community.  She retired from practicing medicine by 1883 when she wrote a Book of Medical Discourses from the notes she kept throughout her medical career. It was dedicated to nurses and mothers. Rebecca Crumpler died on March 9, 1895, in Fairview, Massachusetts. The Rebecca Lee Society, one of the first medical societies for Black women, was named in her honor.

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