Writings by Susan Dickinson

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A memoir of Dr.
     Elizabeth Blackwell.

Memoirs are often tedious but
the picture and sketch of Dr.
Blackwell in the Sunday
Republican has so stirred my
own that "forth I must print
them" - I was a school girl of
fifteen in Geneva when Miss
Blackwell's possible admission
to the Medical College of Geneva
was talked about - The very
select school of Culvertson[?]
and McGregor of which I
was a member was in a
large wooden building nearly
adjoining the substantial brick
building Medical College - on Main St
The horde of students passing up
and down to their lectures were

to us high-bred feminine growths
of those old-fashioned days
as so many wild hordes of un-
tamed races, never glanced at
or or [sic] thought of - a sort of wild
man of Borneo - Caste was as
native to Geneva as to an Indian

     - For a few blocks up
the street Hobart College housed
young men so attractive of such
high degree that lessons were
sadly blurred and the morning
clouded if one missed the
passing greeting - the high lifted
hat of these handsome delightful
fellows - and what serenading!
When stars are in the quiet skies
There you'll &      Oh -
"Some are married most are dead" -
and all recalled by the

mention of a brave plain
woman who dared and did
- a woman of the most careless indifferent
look and manner in every
detail - I was a school girl of
fifteen passing up and down
the same main streets with her
several times each day, and
finally surging with the crowd
into the old Presbyterian church
to see a woman take her diploma
among a crowd of men. Utterly
colorless in physically in look
and manner - emotionless as a
stone she rec'd her diploma
and turning to the professors in
a low clear voice asserted "it
shall be the aim of my life to
shed honor on this diploma -
of course women deplored her

and held aloof almost as from a leper
Men were stunned, and th? d?y
as seen? as to what they owed
their duty - As for myself I was
too unfledged a thing to know or
care much about her, and soon
got used to the at first novel
sight of a girl or young woman
her face quite concealed by a
close cottage strawbonnet and a
long green baize veil added for
privacy, & most of the time over her
face or hanging in long straight
folds over her shoulder. One of a
large crowd of rough rather re-
pellant students - The legend of
their threatened determination
to drive her out especially from
the dissecting rooms and yielding
her consciously at last to her cold

scholarly sexless atmosphere
I know to be quite true, and that
the old College never housed so
wholesomely behaved set of young
doctors - as these by her side -
That old College was is rather
thick with its a [?] place to live[?] +
I [?] heard of Summer afternoons
Dr Wright of the historic family
expound the Old Testament in
a drowsy atmosphere with no
thought of concessions to science
or human feeling - there in a
spacious room I recited in
Botany & Chemistry to Prof.
Hadley [?] of Pres H of Yale + Buffalo Prof -
so thorough a scholar that even
in that early day he despised
text-books teaching us from notes
of his own entirely - He was of so

Brown, Papers of Susan H. Dickinson

thorough and analytic a mind
that a way[?] of a friend when
his first boy was born sent
a cartoon of him holding aloft the
naked little manikin [sic] in a
wine glass while he was pouring
over him with the other hand, str? a
chemical to test his validity to type?
I can hardly believe that with
a 25 cent ticket I sat with
a crowd in the largest
recitation room of the college
to hear Prof Morse of telegraphic
fame lecture on his proposed
plan for girdling the earth in
no time - messages were sent back & forth
from opposite corners of the
in confirmation of his inventions
and discoveries - How we have [were?]

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Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith,
Laura Elyn Lauth, and Lara Vetter, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on January 23, 2008

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