February 17, 2020 Campaign Raises Funds to Commemorate Dr. Rebecca Crumpler, African-American Female Physician
The Hyde Park Historical Society is working with the Friends of the Hyde Park Branch Library to recognize Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the United State’s first African American female physician. Dr. Crumpler practiced and lived in Boston and is buried in Hyde Park. There is currently no marker at her grave. Read below to learn more about Dr. Crumpler’s many accomplishments and life devoted to the health of women and children.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman in the United States. Born in 1831 in Delaware, Crumpler grew up in Pennsylvania and later attended West-Newton English and Classical School in Massachusetts. Known as the Allen School, it was run by Nathaniel T. Allen from 1854 until his retirement in 1900. The school allowed “colored” children to attend classes alongside white children. In 1860, Crumpler applied to study at the New England Female Medical College. Founded in 1848 by Dr. Israel Tisdale Talbot and Dr. Samuel Gregory, the school educated women in courses on the theory and practice of medicine, chemistry, anatomy, and other medical topics. The faculty, facility, and students from the New England Female Medical College were the foundation for the establishment of the Boston University School of Medicine. By 1864, Crumpler would become the college’s only African-American graduate, and began a medical practice in Boston.
Between 1865-1869, Rebecca and her husband Arthur lived in Richmond, Virginia where she treated “diseases of women and children.” The two returned to Beacon Hill in Boston to offer care to “a very large number of the indigent, and others of different classes, in a population of over 30,000 colored.” In an article by Anthony W. Neal that appeared in the Bay State Banner, Crumpler and her husband settled down at 20 Garden Street, where she continued her “work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment; regardless, in the measure, of remuneration.” Over the course of a decade, Crumpler practiced and treated women, and though Crumpler had stopped practicing medicine by 1880, she authored the “Book of Medical Discourses”, which was published by Cashman, Keating, and Co., in 1883.
According to Neal, in her last few years of life, Crumpler was an active member of Twelfth Baptist Church, then located on Phillips Street, and is remembered as a “very pleasant and intellectual woman, and an indefatigable church worker.” Crumpler died in 1895 and is now buried in Hyde Park. The Friends of the Hyde Park Library & The Hyde Park Historical Society have successfully raised the funds to commission a simple gravestone at the Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park (there is currently no marker of recognition). To learn more or make a donation, click HERE.