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Today is National Women Physicians Day, in observance of the 196th anniversary of Elizabeth Blackwell's birth. The British-born Dr. Blackwell is remembered as the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States as well as the first woman on the United Kingdom Medical Register. What you may not know is that, prior to undertaking her medical training, Dr. Blackwell briefly worked as a schoolteacher in Kentucky!
Elizabeth Blackwell was born in a large, nurturing family in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England in 1821; her father, Samuel, was a sugar refiner. Following civil unrest in Bristol, Samuel moved the family first to New York City and later to Cincinnati. As the family fell on hard financial times, Elizabeth accepted a teaching position in Henderson, Kentucky, at a salary of $400/year. Ultimately, Elizabeth's time in the Bluegrass State was unsatisfactory. She found herself suited neither for the town nor the profession, and returned to Cincinnati after a few months, resolving to find a more fulfilling line of work. She worked as a music teacher in North Carolina, saving money for her goal of pursuing a medical education, ultimately enrolling at Geneva Medical College in upstate New York. The degree of medical doctor was conferred upon Dr. Blackwell in January 1849.
While Dr. Blackwell is widely known as the first woman to attain a formal medical degree in the United States, the first woman who was recognized as a physician in Kentucky actually predates the Commonwealth's statehood. Frances Jane Coomes and her husband William accompanied Dr. George Hartt to Fort Harrod in the 1770s. Mrs. Coomes served an apprenticeship under Dr. Hartt, and also is known as Kentucky's first schoolteacher. According to Dr. John A Ouchterlony, in his 1880 book Pioneer Medical Men and Times in Kentucky,
The husband was brave and intrepid; took part in many fights with the Indians, and had numerous adventures and hair breadth escapes. He reached a high age, and was much respected and honored; but it is especially his wife who claims attention in connection with pioneer Medicine in Kentucky. She was a woman of remarkably vigorous intellect, great originality and fertility of resource, and of strong and noble character. She certainly was the first female who ever practiced Medicine in Kentucky and according to some she was the first of her sex to exercise the beneficent functions of the healing arts of our State. She was physician, surgeon, and obstetrician, and her fame and practice extended far and wide, even attracting patients from remote settlements and not only in Kentucky, but in adjoining States.
Here's to Mrs. Coomes, Dr. Blackwell, and all of the other great female physicians for whom Kentucky was part of the story!
When I think of favorite Kentucky Derby memories, there are, of course, stories about sitting right at the Finish Line, over-the-top Derby Parties, and elaborate hats. But, the truth is, some of my very favorite Kentucky Derby Memories are family parties when I was a kid. I can remember sitting in my grandmother's living room -- at a home where drinking or gambling would never be permitted -- and watching the Derby with my cousins. It was always so special to realize that Kentucky was the focus of the entire sports-loving world for the afternoon!
Here are some great tips for hosting a memorable Derby party at home.
1. Keep an assortment of great beverages!
When you think of Derby Day, of course you think of mint juleps! But, y'all know that everybody doesn't like the Kentucky Derby's signature cocktail. Try an Ale-8 "minty julep" mocktail for the kids. Keep some sweet tea and lemonade on hand for those who choose not to imbibe. Maybe mix up a batch of bourbon slush. Have a couple bottles of good bourbon on hand -- a high-wheat and a high-rye should satisfy everyone's tastes. And don't forget that crushed ice makes it all a little more festive!
2. Keep it low-key!
There's no need to pull out the fine china or even the silver julep cups. Make your guests feel comfortable with everyday serving pieces. I LOVE the mint julep cups from Louisville Stoneware. These carafes are only $3 at Target right now. And Derby glasses are always appropriate! I love using a well-loved quilt as a tablecloth. And colorful Fiestaware is always great for a party.
3. Everybody loves a tiny bite!
Make boxed brownie mix something extraordinary by adding a splash of bourbon to the mix, then topping the cooled brownies with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt; cut into tiny, bite-sized squares. Serve sweet Sister Schubert rolls as sliders with salty country ham. Mini hot browns and individual-sized Derby-Pies® are always great tastes of Kentucky!
4. Play some games.
Download a jockey silks template and let kids (and grown-ups!) design their own silks. Draw names of the horses in the field from a bowl, so everyone has a horse to cheer for. (If your crowd is gambling-friendly, set up a small pool for the race winner!) And purchase cheap feathers and flowers from a craft store to decorate Derby hats. Purchase a few extra Derby glasses for party favors that will remind your guests of the fun day.
5. Sing My Old Kentucky Home!
Don't forget the state song. It's a great Derby tradition!
Here's to a fun, laid-back Derby at home!
HerKentucky editor Heather C. Watson interviews Louisville native author and historian Emily Bingham.Read More
So, I'm going to be an aunt soon. Like, any minute now.
Since I can't seem to stop shopping for baby clothes, I thought I'd share with y'all some of the best Kentucky-themed onesies that I've run across.
Born and Breaded Onesie, Kentucky for Kentucky. This just makes me laugh so hard.
Y'all Onesie from Kentucky for Kentucky. I wear the t-shirt version of this one all the time; my niece and I should coordinate, no?
Kentucky Kicks Ass Baby Onesie from Kentucky for Kentucky. Who can resist adorning a child with mild expletives?
Commonwealth Baby Thermal -- High Street Fly. This just looks so snuggly!
502 Onesie from WHYLouisville.
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