Born in England; sister of Henry Brown Blackwell. She was the first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree, which was granted (1849) to her by Geneva Medical College (then part of Geneva College, early name of Hobart). With her sister, Emily Blackwell (1826–1910) who was also a doctor, and Marie Zackrzewska, she founded (1857) the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which was expanded in 1868 to include a Women's College for the training of doctors, the first of its kind. In 1869, Dr. Blackwell settled in England, where she became (1875) professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, which she had helped to establish. She wrote Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (1895) and many other books and papers on health and education.
See biographies by Ann McFerran (1966) and D. C. Wilson (1970).