Zakrzewska, Marie (1829–1902)

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Zakrzewska, Marie (1829–1902)

German-American doctor. Name variations: Dr. Zak. Pronunciation: zuk-SHEF-ska. Born Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska of Polish parents in Berlin, Germany, in 1829; died in 1902; emigrated to U.S., 1853; Cleveland Medical College at Western Reserve University, M.D., 1856.

Marie Zakrzewska was born in 1829 in Berlin, Germany, to Polish parents. The daughter of a midwife, 23-year-old Marie was given a position teaching midwifery with the help of a male physician. When the doctor died, she was asked to resign. In 1853, she emigrated to the United States, where skills of immigrants were often overlooked. At first, Zakrzewska was forced to survive by taking on piecework for the garment industry, knitting at home. However, she soon met Elizabeth Blackwell , who helped her enroll in the two-year course at Cleveland Medical College (affiliated with Western Reserve), the same school from which Emily Blackwell had graduated a few months earlier.

Anderson, Caroline Still (1848–1919)

African-American physician and educator. Name variations: Caroline Still. Born Caroline Virginia Still in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 1, 1848; died in Philadelphia on June 1, 1919; daughter of William Still (an abolitionist and prominent figure in the Philadelphia Underground Railroad); attended Oberlin College, 1865; attended medical school at Howard University and Woman's Medical College in Pennsylvania, 1875–78; interned at New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, 1878–79; married Edward A. Wiley, in 1869 (died 1873); married Matthew Anderson, in 1880; children: (second marriage, three of five survived) Helen, Maude, and Margaret. Caroline Still Anderson's papers are housed in the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University, in Philadelphia.

Upon her return to New York, Zakrzewska, who had a knack for fund raising, joined the Blackwell sisters in founding the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first hospital in America to be staffed by women. Zakrzewska was its first resident physician and general manager. In 1859, she moved to Boston to teach at the New England Female Medical College, but she soon learned that it was more a school of midwifery. Disenchanted, she founded her own teaching hospital in the Roxbury section of Boston in 1862, adding a training school for nurses the following year. It became the New England Hospital for Women and Children where Zakrzewska served as resident physician from its inception until 1902. Susan Dimock (1847–1875) was the hospital's first surgeon and probably the first woman surgeon; tragically, the brilliant Dimock drowned at sea when only 28. Marie Zakrzewska not only fought discrimination against women,

she also championed the poor and African-Americans: the first black nurse, Mary Eliza Mahoney , graduated from the school, while Caroline Still Anderson , a pioneering black physician, served her internship there. Zakrzewska was also a founding member of the active New England Woman's Club.

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