This Mother’s Day We’re Paying Tribute to Elizabeth Gooking Greenleaf, the Mother of Pharmacy

Elizabeth Gooking Greenleaf is recognized as the first female pharmacist in the United States. Not only was she a mother to twelve children, she is considered the mother of pharmacy too. Her trailblazing impact set the stage for the success of female pharmacists today.

Elizabeth was the wife of Harvard educated physician Daniel Greenleaf and began her pharmaceutical career by assisting her husband in preparing medications for his patients. In 1727, she courageously left their hometown and moved to Boston to open her own apothecary shop. Her husband soon followed and they spent the rest of their lives running the apothecary together. She was the only female among 32 New England apothecaries in the early 1700s. Elizabeth died in 1762 but her legacy lived on and showed women across the country that a career in pharmacy was possible. In 2012, the American Pharmacist Association featured her as one of 17 exceptional female pharmacists deemed responsible for the advancement of women in pharmacy.

Elizabeth’s bravery and entrepreneurship has inspired women to join the profession of pharmacy. Today, more women are working in a pharmacy-related career than their male counterparts. In fact, 59.9% of today’s pharmacists are women. Furthermore, there are more women in managerial positions than ever before.

Since the founding of the American Pharmacist Association in the mid 1800s, 7 women have served as president, exemplifying the fact that pharmacy is one of the most egalitarian professions in America today.

Happy Mother’s Day to Elizabeth Gooking Greenleaf and to all the mothers out there whether you are a present or soon to be mom. May your day be extra special.