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Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska (1829–1902)

Portrait of Marie E. Zakrzewska, M.D., ca. 1860s, from  from her book, A Woman's Quest, New York: D. Appleton, 1924.
Portrait of Marie E. Zakrzewska, M.D., ca. 1860s, from from her book, A Woman's Quest, New York: D. Appleton, 1924.

A pioneering female physician and medical educator, Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska was the founder of the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which was staffed by women and specialized in women's and children's health.

Zakrzewska was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1829. She trained as a midwife, advancing to the position of chief of the midwifery program at the Charité Hospital in Berlin. She immigrated to the United States in 1852, where she met Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman to receive a medical degree (1849). Blackwell encouraged her to attend the medical school at Cleveland's Western Reserve University, from which Zakrzewska graduated in 1856. With Blackwell, Zakrzewska worked at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first hospital focusing on pediatric and women's health.

Zakrzewska moved to Boston in 1859 to teach at the New England Female Medical College of Boston, the first medical school for women in the world, and in 1862 she opened the New England Hospital for Women and Children. In 1872 the hospital opened the first professional nurse-training program in the country and provided clinical training for female doctors that was inaccessible to them at the male medical establishments.

Dr. Zakrzewska helped found the New England Woman's Club and was active in the American Woman Suffrage Association. She was a friend of Lucy Stone, William Lloyd Garrison, Karl Heinzen, Julia Ward Howe, and the Grimké sisters. Zakrzewska died in Boston in at the age of 73.

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