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History of Medicine and the Civil War: A Guide -- Exhibit to accompany Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine: Women in Medicine: Elizabeth D.A. Cohen, MD, - First Woman to Practice Medicine as a physician in New Orleans (1857- )

Jones Hall - January 8, 2018 to February 16, 2018.

Elizabeth D.A. Cohen, MD, - First Woman to Practice Medicine as a physician in New Orleans (1857- )

The first woman to establish a long continued practice as a physician in New Orleans was Mrs. Elizabeth Cohen, M.D.   She  attended medical school in Pennsylvania;  Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Medical University.  She first practiced in New Orleans as midwife and then as doctress (1869), and was permitted to act as physician in 1876.  When General Benjamin Butler and the Union Army were in control of the city, she was arrested as a spy while crossing the river for a confinement case.  When she explained her mission to Butler, he accorded her the privileges of military escort on subsequent journeys.  

  • From a manuscript by Dr. Elizabeth Bass

 

Elizabeth Cohen

Elizabeth Cohen, M.D.

Elizabeth Cohen, M.D. Doctor for Ladies' only

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, circa 1861 – on back: S A and 61 Camp Street (Samuel Anderson and Samuel T. Blessing, partners in photography, 1861 address was 61 Camp Street)

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, circa 1861 – on back: S A and 61 Camp Street (Samuel Anderson and Samuel T. Blessing, partners in photography, 1861 address was 61 Camp Street)

The first woman who had the honor of being the earliest to establish a long continued practice as a physician in New Orleans was Mrs. Elizabeth Cohen, M.D.   She  attended medical school in Pennsylvania;  Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Medical University.  She first practiced in New Orleans as midwife and then as doctress (1869), and was permitted to act as physician in 1876.  

"I was the-first woman doctor that they had known, and all the doctors sent me cases. I can't count all the babies I brought-in those days, women had fifteen or sixteen children as a matter of course; It isn't like today, with little, families of one or two. I was very busy because I practiced general medicine, too.  I never knew what it was to have a whole night's rest during the thirty years. We didn't have telephones, but messages came at all hours to my house in Baronne Street."

...

"I'm glad to see the girls of today getting an education. In my youth you had to fight for it. And its the finest thing In the world-an education. And I believe In suffrage, too--things wil1 be better when women can vote, and can protect their own property and their own children. Even if I am a hundred, I'm for votes for women."  - Woman Doctor Celebrates Her 100th Birthday, Recalls reception given her by Orleans Physicians in 1857 / by Marguerite Samuels, New Orleans Times Picayune, 2/22/1920, p.25 (section 3)

In her later years Dr. Cohen served as physician and consultant at the J. Weiss Home for Aged and Infirm, where she celebrated her 100th anniversary with appropriate ceremonies and much homage to her skill and services to the inmates of the home.  

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