Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Rebecca J. Cole-2nd African-American woman to become a Doctor in the United States
Rebecca J. Cole was an American physician. In 1867, she became the 2nd African-American woman to become a doctor in the United States after Rebecca Crumpler's achievement 3 years earlier. Cole was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and would overcome racial and gender barriers to medical education by training in all-female institutions run by women who had been part of the first generation of female physicians graduating mid-century. Cole was the 2nd out of five children. Cole attended the Institute for Colored Youth, graduating in 1863. She then went on to graduate from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867, under the supervision of Ann Preston. Her graduate medical thesis was titled The Eye and Its Appendages. Afterwards Cole interned at Elizabeth Blackwell's New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. Cole went on to practice in South Carolina, then returned to Philadelphia, and in 1873 opened a Women's Directory Center to provide medical and legal services to destitute women and children. In January 1899, she was appointed superintendent of a home, run by the Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C.. The annual report for that year stated that she possessed "all the qualities essential to such a position-ability, energy, experience, tact." Although Cole practiced medicine for 50 years, few records survive, and only two photos remain.