Sophia Jex-Blake: copy book of letters and other documents

  • Blake, Sophia Louisa Jex- (1840–1912), physician and campaigner for women's rights
  • Archives and manuscripts
  • Online

About this work


Copy book kept by Sophia Jex-Blake with copies of her letters, reviews and other writings for the years c.1883-1888. It has been written in starting at both ends. It includes drafts of her work on on the care of infants (published in 1884), ff 1-192v; "Things that Women Ought to Know ", ff 193-253; notes on and review of Theodore Stanton The Woman Question in Europe (ff. ff 495v-471v ). There are drafts or copies of letters to editors of assorted periodicals on a variety of subjects, medical and non-medical, including "Medical Education for Women", "Maternity Hospitals" and "First Places for Young Girls"; materials relating to medical education for women, especially the Edinburgh Medical School or Women, and to the Hospital for Women and Children. A number of matters of personal administration, some of them dealt with by Margaret Todd, are also contained in this volume.



Physical description

1 volume Bound volume, 27 x 21 x 2.5 cm, original boards, leather spine, gold lettering "Letter Book", ff. 505 (stamped in upper righthand corner) with copies of documents, with (unused) index pages at front

Acquisition note

Purchased from Elizabeth Crawford, Nov 2013

Biographical note

Sophia Jex-Blake was a leading figure in the campaign for women's entry to the UK medical profession. In spite of being admitted to matriculation at Edinburgh University, along with six other women desirous of qualifying in medicine, and although they passed the necessary examinations, in spite of being faced by rioting male medical students at the Surgeon's Hall, they met with resistance to their entry to the wards for clinical training, and in 1872 Edinburgh University decreed that women could not be awarded degrees. Jex-Blake then moved to London and founded the London School of Medicine for Women, 1874. However in spite of having male allies women were still unable to obtain the necessary qualifications for entry on the Medical Register.

In 1877 Jex-Blake obtained an MD at Berne, and subsequently passed the examinations of the King's and Queen's College of Surgeons in Dublin, the first license-granting medical corporation to admit women. Disappointed of her belief that she would be appointed honorary Secretary of the London School of Medicine for Women, Jex-Blake returned to Edinburgh, where she set up in practice and opened a dispensary, which eventually became the Edinburgh Hospital for Women, subsequently Bruntisfield Hospital. In 1885 the Edinburgh Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons agreed to admit women to their conjoint diploma. In order to facilitate women's medical education at Edinburgh, Jex-Blake established the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women which opened early in 1887, but had problems with disruptions by students who found Jex-Blake's administration too strict, leading to the eventual foundation of a breakaway Medical College of Women. Jex-Blake's School of Medicine for Women closed in 1898. She retired from Edinburgh Hospital for Women in 1899 and went to live in Sussex until her death.

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Accession number

  • 2032