About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for The Doctors Blackwell

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual book talk with Janice Nimura, author of The Doctors Blackwell.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Tuesday, March 9, at noon, we will welcome Jayne Zanglein, author of The Girl Explorers, the story of the founding of the Society of Women Geographers and how key members served as early advocates for human rights and paved the way for today's women scientists.

And on Thursday, March 11, at noon, Bruce Levine will be here to tell us about his new biography of Thaddeus Stevens, one of the foremost abolitionists in Congress before the Civil War and firm proponent of equal rights for Black Americans during Reconstruction.

* * *

In 2020, we observed the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which secured women's right to vote in the United States Constitution. In the months leading up to the actual anniversary date, we looked at the history of the suffrage movement and learned about milestones in the pursuit of women’s rights.

We often start discussions about woman suffrage in 1848, with the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. A year earlier and about a dozen miles away, however, a young woman entered Geneva Medical College, on her way to becoming the first woman in the United States to get a medical degree.

Doctor Elizabeth Blackwell and her sister Emily, who joined her in her practice, “brought medicine to women and women to medicine,” as the subtitle of Nimura’s book declares. Not only did they break into a profession dominated by men, they also opened an infirmary specifically for women and staffed entirely by women.

Janice Nimura’s biography of the Blackwell sisters has already won national praise in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Joanna Scutts of the Times calls the book a “richly detailed and propulsive biography of Elizabeth and her sister Emily Blackwell.”

* * *

Janice Nimura is the author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back, which was a New York Times Notable Book in 2015. She received a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of her work on The Doctors Blackwell. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine, among other publications, and she has been interviewed on National Public Radio's Fresh Air and All Things Considered.

Now let’s hear from Janet Nimura. Thank you for joining us today.