On this day 170 years ago, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman doctor in the United States. The local press boasted about the gender pioneer who graduated after becoming the first woman in the country to attend medical school. She chose the field after her friend fell ill and suggested that if a female doctor had cared for her, she might not have suffered so much. As a woman, Elizabeth Blackwell endured a lot of prejudice, as she was rejected from every medical school except one—Geneva College in New York (now, Hobart and William Smith Colleges). On graduation day, when the British-born student was receiving her diploma, the school’s dean, Dr. Charles Lee, stood up and bowed to her. (1849)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The first bridge over the Mississippi River opened in Minnesota (1855)
  • Charles Curtis, a Kansas attorney from the Kaw nation, became the first person with significant Native American ancestry to be elected as a US Senator, which led to his later becoming vice-president, under President Herbert Hoover (1907)
  • The 24th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified prohibiting election day poll taxes (1964)
  • A peace accord was reached between US & Vietnam (1973)
  • National Handwriting Day in the USA was established on John Hancock’s birthday (1977)
  • Sweden became the first nation to ban aerosol sprays protecting the Earth’s ozone layer (1978)
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first members: Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis (1986)
  • The US Patent & Trademark Office revoked four key patents held by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences on a previously-known drug, paving the way for cheap generic HIV/AIDS medicine for the developing world (2008)

And, Happy 68th Birthday to Captain Chesley Sullenberger who, ten years ago, safely landed a jet airliner in the Hudson River saving all 155 passengers on board and sparing pedestrians on the ground.chesley sullenberger

The plane hit a flock of birds right after takeoff that knocked out both engines while 3,000 feet in the air. The Captain is retired from aviation now, but works as an author, speaker, and consultant. In response to worldwide celebration of the incident he said, “I realized how this event had touched people’s lives, how ready they were for good news, how much they wanted to feel hopeful again,” said Sully afterward. “We’ve had a worldwide economic downturn, and people are just so ready for good news. They want to feel reassured that all the things we value, all our ideals, still exist.” … Actor Tom Hanks played him in “Sully,” a film about the event, which came to be known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”. (1951)hudson-river-jet-sully.jpg

And, on this day 76 years ago in 1943, the classic film Casablanca premiered on screens across the US. Beloved for the onscreen chemistry between the two lead actors, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, the film won three Academy Awards, including best picture, screenplay, and director – for Michael Curtiz.

The signature line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” was ranked No. 5 on AFI’s list of 100 greatest movie quotes of all time. Named for the North African city where the story is set, Casablanca left us with other unforgettable lines from the World War II Resistance drama: Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine; The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world; I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship; and perhaps the best closing line in cinema—We’ll always have Paris, uttered by Rick before he sends Lisa off in an airplane, with the romantic theme song, As Time Goes By, playing amidst the fog. WATCH an anniversary tribute from CBS Sunday Morning. (Also check out Ingrid Bergman dishing: “I watched the film the other day after not seeing it for a long time, and it was amazing how good that picture was.”)