March 16: Rebecca Cole, the 2nd Woman in Black American History to Earn a Degree in Medicine, Was Born Today in 1846

0 Posted by - March 16, 2021 - Birthdays, On This Date, Today In Black History

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Rebecca J. Cole (pictured) was only the second Black woman in the history of the United States to earn a medical degree.

Cole was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 16, 1846. As a young child, she excelled in her studies. Cole went on to attend the prestigious Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia. Presently, this school is called Cheyney University. Cole continued on to medical school at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania.

She graduated in 1867 and became the first Black women to earn an M.D. from the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, Cole was the second Black woman to do so in the U.S. Rebecca Lee Crumpler‘s historic achievement of becoming a Black American female doctor came first in 1864.

Cole was an advocate for providing medical care to the poor. She practiced medicine at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, a woman-run hospital. Cole also served as superintendent of the Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C.

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Cole dedicated her life to caring for underprivileged families. At age 76, she passed away on August 14, 1922 (Middleton, 2013).

Reference: Middleton, B. (2013, March 16) This Day in Black History: March 16, 1846. Retrieved from

* writer and historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.

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