Marie Zakrzewska was born in Berlin, Germany, on 6th September, 1829. She was admitted to the school of midwives in Berlin and graduated in 1851. The following year she was appointed as assistant to the Director of the Royal Hospital Charité, but after male members of staff complained about this decision, Zakrzewska decided to resign.
In 1853 Zakrzewska emigrated to the United States and soon after arriving in New York met Elizabeth Blackwell who helped her master the English language. With Blackwell's help Zakrzewska obtained a place at the Cleveland Medical College in 1856.
In May, 1857, Zakrzewska joined with Elizabeth Blackwell and Emily Blackwell to established the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Zakrzewska served as resident physician and general manager for the next two years. The women gave public lectures on hygiene, created a health centre, appointed sanitary visitors and campaigned for better preventive medicine.
Zakrzewska then worked as professor of obstetrics at the New England Female Medical College in Boston (1859-62). Zakrzewska also became involved in the struggle against slavery and campaigned for woman suffrage.
In 1862 Zakrzewska established the New England Hospital for Women and Children. She served as a physician in the hospital (1862-1899) and also maintained a successful private practice in Boston. Marie Zakrzewska died in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, on 12th May, 1902.