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Emily Blackwell and Elizabeth Cushier

Dr. Emily Blackwell circa 1880

Albumen photograph of Dr. Emily Blackwell, circa 1880s

In the 1880's, a long-term primary relationship between two single women was called a “Boston marriage.”[1] At Wellesley College, such committed, romantic companionships were called “Wellesley marriages.”[2]

Doctors Emily Blackwell and Elizabeth Cushier had such a bond. Blackwell co-founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (1857) and its Women's Medical College.[3] Cushier was professor of medicine at the college and Blackwell's life-partner for twenty-eight years. About the relationship, Dr. Cushier wrote, “Thus the years happily passed” until in 1910 “a sad blow came in the death of Dr. Blackwell, making an irreparable beak in my life.”[4]


1. Eric Haralson and Kendall Johnson, Critical Companion to Henry James: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work (New York: Facts on File, 2009), 68, http://books.google.com/books?id=Nrfg5a2Pjs8C&pg=PA68&lpg=PA68&dq=%22one+of+those+friendships+between+women%22+henry+james&source=bl&ots=_srrnjNbJv&sig=qFEiY9Yg8RxEmG9w7yZKG2wQv48&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gQr6T5_uJOXq6wGRqKTABg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22one%20of%20those%20friendships%20between%20women%22%20henry%20james&f=false.

2. The History Project, compiler, Improper Bostonians (Boston: Beacon, 1998), 70.

3. Lillian Faderman, To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America—A History (Boston: Mariner, 2000), 278.

4. Faderman, 289.