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*On this date in 1850, the New England Female Medical College (NEFMC) was incorporated. This was one of the earliest colleges that assisted Black women to earn a medical degree.
Originally Boston Female Medical College was founded in 1848 by Samuel Gregory and was the first school to train women in the field of medicine. The American Medical Education Society, formed in Boston in 1848, was created exclusively to promote the medical education of women. After the name was changed to the Female Medical Education Society to more accurately reflect the fact that the focus was specifically on the education of women, the Society was incorporated and officially recognized by the Massachusetts Legislature on this date in 1850.
The Society's first classes, offered under the name Boston Female Medical School, were held in the home of Boylston Medical School President Dr. Winslow Lewis. The goal of the Female Medical Education Society was to establish a medical school in Boston, complete with its own teaching hospital, to teach women midwifery and nursing with the expectation that they would treat women and children. By 1852, this school was called the New England Female Medical College. Even in a time of gender prejudice, the foundation of the College was accepted by many as it "provided women with a socially sanctioned position in a feminized occupation."
In 1851, they discussed a merger with the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania), and briefly shared faculty with the other school. Dated from the beginning of instruction, the NEFMC is widely recognized today as the first institution in the United States to offer medical education exclusively to women. On May 27, 1857, by an act of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Female Medical Education Society was formally reorganized as the New England Female Medical College, with the board members of the Society now serving as Trustees of the College.
In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first Black woman to graduate. In 1870 the New England Female Medical College building was dedicated on a lot between East Concord and Stoughton Streets, giving the school its own home after 22 years of existence. However, the school faced growing financial constraints, and after 26 years, having granted medical degrees to 98 women, the New England Female Medical College merged with Boston University to become the co-educational Boston University School of Medicine in 1874.