No More Misses: Rebecca Lee Crumpler Fighting Prejudice

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

From that home, Crumpler treated mostly women and children, regardless of their ability to pay. Her book, which she dedicates to nurses and mothers, is seen as the precursor to “What to Expect While Waiting” (1984), which is considered the prenatal bible for countless pregnant women. It is full of advice.

“Children should not be asked if they like to eat, with the privilege of choosing one that will not feed their blood,” Crumpler said. He also said, “Parents should hug their children and children should stand by their parents until the last strand of the silk cord breaks.”

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

Crumpler died of fibroid tumors on March 9, 1895. He was 64 years old. Her husband died in 1910.

In 2019, history buff and head of the Friends of the Hyde Park Library, Vicki Gall launched a fundraising campaign to place headstones for both. They were added at a ceremony led by Gall on July 16, 2020.

“I didn’t do this to feel good,” Gall said over the phone. “It was a historic moment. He didn’t know the significance of what he was doing at the time, but now we realize it.”

No more trampled grass near Rebecca Lee Crumpler’s resting place. Instead, there is an awakening in his contributions to the medical community. As she writes in “The Book of Medical Discourses”: “What we need in every community today is not the waning or diminishing of feminine usefulness in this field of work, but a renewed and bold readiness to do so wherever and whenever the task requires.”

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