Overlooked No More: Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Who Battled Prejudice in Medicine

Her home at 67 Joy Street now has a plaque honoring her and is a stop on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.

From this house, Crumpler mainly treated women and children, regardless of their solvency. Her book, dedicated to nurses and mothers, is believed to be the forerunner of What To Expect When You Expect (1984), which is considered the prenatal Bible for countless pregnant women. It is full of admonitions.

“Children should not be asked if they like this and the food, with the privilege of choosing what does not give them food for the blood,” wrote Crumpler. She also said: “Parents should hold their children and children should stand by their parents until the last thread of the silk cord is broken.”

An 1894 article in The Boston Globe described her book as “valuable” and Crumpler as “a very pleasant and intellectual woman” and “a tireless community worker.”

Crumpler died of fibroids on March 9, 1895. She was 64 years old. Her husband died in 1910.

In 2019, Vicky Gall, a history buff and president of Friends of the Hyde Park Library, started a fundraiser to have tombstones erected for both of them. They were added at a ceremony on July 16, 2020 that Gall presided over.

“I didn’t do this as a feel-good moment,” Gall said on the phone. “That was a historic moment. She didn’t know then how important her actions were, but we can see it now. “

There is no more trampled grass near Rebecca Lee Crumpler’s rest stop. Instead, there is an awakening of their contributions to the medical community. As she wrote in A Book of Medical Discourses: “What we need in every community today is not a shrinking or weakening of female usefulness in this field, but a new and courageous willingness to do when and where duty calls . “

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