Historic Firsts in Women's Education in the United States

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  • July 16, 1840 Catherine Brewer becomes the first woman to earn a bachelor's degree, graduating from Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga.
  • 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to graduate from medical school when she finishes at the top of her class at Geneva Medical School in Geneva, N.Y.
  • 1862 Oberlin College in Ohio awards the first bachelor's degree to an African-American woman, Mary Jane Patterson.
  • 1866 Lucy Hobbs becomes the first female doctor of dental surgery when she earns her D.D.S. from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery.
  • 1870 The first woman graduates from an accredited law school when Ada Kepley receives an LL.B. from Union College of Law in Chicago.
  • 1873 The first training school for nurses, at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, graduates its first class. The first of five to enroll, Linda Richards, receives the first diploma.
  • 1877 Helen Magill becomes the first woman to earn a Ph.D. when she finishes her graduate studies in Greek at Boston University.