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Janice P. Nimura, author of The Doctors Blackwell, will present public lecture Feb. 7 at Upstate

In recognition of Upstate’s Elizabeth Blackwell Day, Janice P. Nimura, author of The Doctors Blackwell, a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in biography, will give a free public presentation Feb. 7 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Ninth Floor Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall, 766 Irving Ave.

Elizabeth Blackwell Day honors the first woman in America to earn a medical degree. Elizabeth Blackwell earned her medical degree 175 years ago in 1849 from Geneva College of Medicine, which today is SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The Doctors Blackwell recounts the pursuit of medical education by sisters Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) and Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), and the obstacles they overcame to succeed in the medical profession, which included founding the first hospital staff entirely by women in New York City.

The author Nimura received a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of her work on The Doctors Blackwell, which was a New York Times bestseller a finalist a Pulitzer Prize. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, The Rumpus, and LitHub, among other publications. She is also the author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back (2015).

In 2023, Nimura was elected to membership in the Society of American Historians. She is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Wesleyan University.

“The amazing story of Doctors Blackwell is one that we can all learn from,” said Sabrina Sun, a medical student and lead organizer of Upstate Elizabeth Blackwell Day celebration. “It not only shares the inspiring journey of two trailblazing women in medicine, but also recognizes them as complicated human beings whose limitations and challenges were all a part of their path to remarkable achievements. 

“Janice Nimura’s talk about the Blackwell sisters will remind us of why we continually choose to serve others and reinvigorate us to continue pushing the boundaries of medicine regardless of the challenges we face.”

The author will sign copies of her book following the presentation. A limited supply will be available for purchase at the event.

Cosponsors of the Nimura’s visit are the student chapter of the American Women Medical Association and AMWA President Sun and the Office of the President.

In a nod to Dr Elizabeth Blackwell's pioneering accomplishment and the 175 anniversary of her graduation, the Weiskotten Hall courtyard is decorated with banners of other notable women physicians who graduated from Upstate.

Last October, Upstate acquired a table and chair from the 1850s that had been owned by Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. They are currently on display in the Weiskotten Hall lobby.

For more on Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, check out the Upstate Health Sciences Library Archives and Special Collections.

Upstate's celebration of Dr Elizabeth Blackwell features T-shirts and copies of The Doctors Blackwell for sale. Books will be signed by the author, Janice P. Nimura, following her lecture Feb. 7.