Throwback Thursday – Helen Keller

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When Helen Keller was 19 months old, she lost her hearing and sight to an illness. Later on, Helen’s parents hired Anne Sullivan as her teacher. Sullivan helped Helen understand and communicate with her surroundings. Sullivan taught Helen to read and write in Braille and to use sign language by touch. Helen Keller could not speak so she had an interpreter to make herself understood.

With assistance from Sullivan, Helen graduated from college with honors. Keller published her first book, The Story of My Life, which was printed in many languages. She contributed to making advancements in public service for the disabled. Keller was also a supporter of women’s rights and other liberal causes. Even though there were many obstacles for Helen Keller, she made an impact as an educator, organizer, and fundraiser. Keller showed the world what she was capable of. This changed the world’s perception of people with disabilities and their abilities.

 

 

Source:

History – Helen Keller

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Throwback Thursday – Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born in 1831 in Delaware. Crumpler was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania, who spent much of her time caring for sick neighbors and may have influenced  Crumpler’s career choice. By 1852, Crumpler had moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she worked as a nurse for 8 years (since the first nursing school opened in 1873, she was able to work as a nurse without any formal training). In 1860, Crumpler was admitted to the New England Female Medical Colleges. When she graduated in 1864, she was the first African American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree and the only African American to graduate from the New England Female Medical College, which closed in 1873.

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Dr. Crumpler practiced in Boston for a little while before moving to Richmond, Virginia after the Civil War ended in 1865. Here, she joined other black physicians who were caring for freed slaves who would otherwise not have had to access to medical care. They experienced intense racism in the postwar south.

By 1880, Dr. Crumpler had moved back to Hyde Park, Massachusetts, and was no longer in active practice. In 1883, she published a book, Book of Medical Discourses, based on journal notes she kept during her years of medical practice. This was one of the very first medical publications by an African American.

Why is she important?

Rebecca Lee Crumpler challenged the beliefs of her time. She pursued a medical degree during a time when African Americans faced many racial and societal challenges. She was the very first African American women in the United States to earn a medical degree.

Sources:

Dr. Rebecaa Lee Crumpler

The Most Influential Women in Medicine: From the Past to the Present

 

Throwback Thursday – Helen Keller

helen-keller

When Helen Keller was 19 months old, she lost her hearing and sight to an illness. Later on, Helen’s parents hired Anne Sullivan as her teacher. Sullivan helped Helen understand and communicate with her surroundings. Sullivan taught Helen to read and write in Braille and to use sign language by touch. Helen Keller could not speak so she had an interpreter to make herself understood.

With assistance from Sullivan, Helen graduated from college with honors. Keller published her first book, The Story of My Life, which was printed in many languages. She contributed to making advancements in public service for the disabled. Keller was also a supporter of women’s rights and other liberal causes. Even though there were many obstacles for Helen Keller, she made an impact as an educator, organizer, and fundraiser. Keller showed the world what she was capable of. This changed the world’s perception of people with disabilities and their abilities.

 

 

Source:

History – Helen Keller

Throwback Thursdays – Shirley Chisholm

Hey everyone! We are back with a throwback post about a woman, who was a groundbreaking activist, congresswoman, and health political leader in America. Her name is Shirley Chisholm. Shirley advocated for the needs of minorities, children, and women. She became the first woman ever to run for presidential candidacy and the first black woman in congress, which she served seven times afterwards.

Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1924. She was there until 3 years old and then went to live with her grandmother in Barbados. She went back to New York as a young adult to continue her education, which led to her activism and political career.

Her efforts as a community activist not only did a lot for African Americans, but also for women of color. Shirley Chisholm wanted to help people in low income cities live better lives. She knew by creating a better government their quality of life would be better. She helped create more government support to provide healthcare, education and other needed social services.  For instance, Chisholm knew the importance of having child care options for working women. In 1953, she became the director of the Hamilton Madison Child Center for 4 years, and then served as an educational consultant for the Division of Daycare. She supported working families by sponsoring the increase of funding for daycares so their hours could be longer, and wanted a minimum annual income for families. She was a politician for the people and truly cared about America’s citizens.(Acasta,O’Reily,Taha, 2016).

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Shirley Chisholm went on to announce her presidential campaign in 1972. Chisholm’s presidential campaign aimed to address all of the issues and concerns of underrepresented groups, such as: African Americans, women, Native Americans, the poor and young people. Chisholm’s experience as a political activist pushed her to fight for better representation of minority groups.

Although Shirley received support from a few groups, she got backlash from others, which started the list of obstacles of her campaign.  Sexism was prevalent and the African American community was no exception. For every group that supported Chisholm, another felt it would be better if a man would improve the situation. Also, Chisholm gained physical support, but no endorsements from feminist organizations. Some felt it would be a lost cause to financially support her. Shirley was very smart because she wasn’t foreign to the issues experienced.

I ran because someone had to do it first. In this country every- body is supposed to be able to run for President, but that’s never been really true. I ran because most people think the country is not ready for a black candidate, not ready for a woman candidate. Someday . . . It was time in 1972 to make that someday come and, partly through a series of accidents that might never recur, it seemed to me that I was the best fitted to try . . .”  Chisholm (during an interview in the 1970s)

Shirley Chisholm saw many problems that needed to change through her life. Trying to become president in the 1970’s showed more of the problems that we have in America. This may seem like far in the past, this was only 44 years ago! As a country, the United States has a long, long way to go. We need everyone to understand that every human life matters and should be recognized in our political systems. If we don’t understand that value, equality won’t be able to exist and actually matter. Shirley Chisholm understood that, and never gave up even when she didn’t get support from everyone. By not giving up, you will eventually make a change.

References:

Shirley Chisholm Biography

Shirley Chisholm

Throwback Thursdays – Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks was a black tobacco farmer from southern Virginia who got cervical cancer when she was 30 years old. In 1951, a doctor at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland took a piece of Henrietta’s tumor without telling her and sent it down the hall to scientists there who had been trying to grow tissues in culture for decades without success. No one knows why, but Henrietta’s cells never died and were given the codename HeLa cells (for the first two letters in Henrietta and Lacks).

Why are her cells so important?

Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture. They were essential to developing the polio vaccine. They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity. Henrietta’s cells have been used in many different scientific landmarks, including: cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization (a procedure in which eggs (ova) from a woman’s ovary are removed. They are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory procedure, and then the fertilized egg (embryo) is returned to the woman’s uterus.)

Sources:
Smithsonian – Henrietta Lacks
In Vitro Fertilization

Throwback Thursday -Antonia Novello 

Antonia Novello was the first female surgeon general of the United States as well as the first of Hispanic origin. During her time in office, Novello focused her attention on the health of women, children, and minorities, as well as on underage drinking, smoking, and AIDS. She played an important role in launching the Healthy Children Ready to Learn Initiative. She was actively involved in working with other organizations to promote immunization of children and childhood injury prevention efforts.

Novello remained in the post of Surgeon General through June 30, 1993. She then served as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Special Representative for Health and Nutrition from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, she became Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Dr. Novello became Commissioner of Health for the State of New York in 1999.

Sources:
Antonia C. Novello
Women Pioneers in Medicine

 

Throwback Thursday – Evelyn Lauder

Long before pink ribbons were a universal sign that October coming up, Evelyn Lauder was a leader in the breast cancer awareness movement. The daughter-in-law of Estee Lauder, Evelyn, who worked in the Lauder family business, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. Evelyn went on to found the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and create the pink ribbon as a symbol of awareness, along with Self magazine editor-in-chief Alexandra Penney, Women’s Wear Daily reported in 2011. Evelyn Lauder died in November 2011 from complications of non-genetic ovarian cancer.

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Sources:
Evelyn Lauder, Breast Cancer Awareness Activist

Throwback Thursdays: Gertrude Belle Elion

Gertrude Belle Elion’s career as a chemist was inspired by the death of her beloved grandfather, who died of cancer. She vowed to find its cure and in her quest to do so developed 45 treatments that help the immune system overcome cancer, organ transplant, and Herpes virus, among others. Elion’s greatest contribution may have been Purinethol – the first major drug used to fight leukemia (type of cancer). She won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988.

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Source:
50 Women Who Changed Our Health

Throwback Thursdays – Dr. Helen Taussig

Helen Brooke Taussig is known as the founder of pediatric cardiology for her innovative work on ‘blue baby’ syndrome (AKA Anoxemia – a congenital heart condition caused by a defect that prevents the heart from receiving enough oxygen).

Helen-Taussig-Overview

As a young girl, Helen Taussig lost her mother when she was only 11. Her grandfather, a physician who had a strong interest in biology and zoology, may have influenced her decision to become a doctor. Despite suffering from dyslexia (a reading impairment), Taussig excelled in higher education. She graduated from the Cambridge School for Girls in 1917 and became a champion tennis player during her two years of study at Radcliffe. She earned a B.A. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1921. After studying at Harvard Medical School and Boston University, she transferred to John Hopkins University School of Medicine to pursue her interest in cardiac research.

Taussig graduated from Hopkins in 1927, and served as a fellow in cardiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital for the next year, followed by a two-year pediatrics internship. In 1930 she was appointed head of the Children’s Heart Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatric unit, the Harriet Lane Home, where she worked until her retirement in 1963.

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By the time Taussig graduated from Hopkins, she had lost her hearing and relied on lip-reading and hearing aids for the rest of her career. Interestingly, Taussig was able to distinguish the rhythms of normal and damaged hearts by touch, rather than by sound. Some of her innovations in pediatric cardiology have been credited to this ability.

In 1944, Taussig, surgeon Alfred Blalock, and surgical technician Vivien Thomas developed an operation to correct the congenital heart defect that causes baby blue syndrome. Since then, their operation has prolonged thousands of lives, and is considered a key step in the development of adult open heart surgery the following decade.

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In 1954, Helen Taussig received the prestigious Lasker Award for her work on the blue baby operation. In 1959, she was awarded a full professorship at Johns Hopkins University and became one of the first women in the history of the school to hold that rank. Taussig was a founder of the subspecialty of pediatric cardiology and was elected president of the American Heart Association in 1965. She was the first woman recipient of the highest award given by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1964, Taussig received the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson.

Why is Dr. Taussig’s work important?

Dr. Taussig’s work in pediatric cardiology was important because she, along with her colleagues, developed a surgery that prolonged and saved many children’s lives. Their work also was a key step in the development of adult open heart surgery in the following decade.

Sources:
Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig