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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) to Baroness Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron (1792–1860), March 4, 1851. Holograph letter. Blackwell Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (016.00.00)

Equal Education of Women Sparks Debate

“I do not wish to give [women] a first place, still less a second one—but the most complete freedom, to take their true place whatever it may be,” asserted pioneer physician Elizabeth Blackwell in this spirited response to Lady Byron’s suggestion that women doctors assume a secondary position in the medical profession. Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to obtain a medical degree, objected to Byron's “fatal error” of “ranking human beings according to sex instead of character.”