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Elizabeth D.A. Magnus Cohen


COHEN, ELIZABETH D.A. MAGNUS (1820–1921), pioneering woman physician in the southern United States. Cohen was born and educated in New York City. Married to Dr. Aaron Cohen and mother of five children, Magnus decided to study medicine at the age of 33, following the death of her young son. She enrolled in the recently created Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, from which she graduated in 1857. She then joined her husband in New Orleans, becoming the first woman to practice medicine in Louisiana. She helped combat yellow fever epidemics in 1857 and 1858, but thereafter treated mostly women and children in her private medical practice. For two decades she was listed in the New Orleans City Directory as a midwife and then as a "doctress," but in 1876 she finally achieved recognition as Mrs. Elizabeth Cohen, physician. She retired in 1887, following the deaths of her husband and children, and lived for the rest of her very long life in the Touro Infirmary, later known as the Julius Weis Home for the Aged, where she continued to serve as a volunteer. Elizabeth Cohen was an ardent supporter of women's rights and women's suffrage; only after her death at the age of 101 did the first woman receive a medical degree in New Orleans, from Tulane University.


P.E. Hyman and D.D. Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, 1 (1997), 243–44; New Orleans Times-Picayune (Feb. 22, 1920); J. Duffy (ed.), The Rudolph Matas History of Medicine in Louisiana, 2 (1962); Encyclopedia Louisiana (1998).

[Harriet Pass Friedenreich (2nd ed.)]


Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.