Rebecca J. Cole



Born: Rebecca J. Cole was born on March 16, 1846 in Philadelphia, PA.

Education: She graduated from The Institue of Colored Youth, Philadelphia,PA,1863; Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, MD, 1867.

Career: Physician, 18671922; New York Infirmary for Women and Children, New york, NY, sanitary visitor and resident physician; Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children, Washington D.C., superintendent; Women's Directory, Philadelphia, PA, founder.


In 1867 Rebecca Cole became the second African American women to recieve a medical degree in the United States. At that time the medical field mostly consisted of white men. African American's were subjected to intense recism, denied basic rights, and relegated to "separate but equal" status. Rebecca Cole also suffered the second-class citizenship that 19th Century America imposed upon women.Although the incredible sexism and racism continued, Rebecca persevered as a doctor, forging a career that spanned more than fifty years. Along the was she became a tireless advocate for medical rights and access for the poor, particularly for black Americans who were mostly ignored by the white medical world.

Family and Siblings:

Husband: Percell Cole

Died: - Anderson, SC

Father: Willam Floyed Cole (1866-1930)
Mother:Julie Hubbard Cole (1874-1961
She had 2 sisters (Sallie and Dora) and 2 brothers (Hamilton and Joseph)
She had five kids. (including one her senior year of highschool and one of them her first year of college.)


After graduating in 1863, Rebecca brifly worked as a teacher before beginning medical school at the Femalw MEdical College of PEnnslyvania(currently known as Drexel University). At this time, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote was still over half a centuryaway. Medicine, had barely opened their doors to women. In 1867, during the scholls's fiftheenth annual commencement, Rebecca graduated, becoming the first black women to earn her MD from that school. Her senior thesis was called The Eye and Its Appendages. Not very long after medical school, Rebecca moved to New York City to join the staff of tthe NEw York INfirmary for Women and Children. The Infirmary was a women-owned, wimen-run hospital founded by Blackwell in 1857. In Philadelphia Rebecca Cole became part of the African American Women's Club movement that was spreading across the nation. These clubs provided African American women with an outlet for social and political activity at a time when they were doubly ostracized by society for being black or being women.

On August 14, 1922, she died by the dreadful disease of cancer in Penslyvania. After nearly half a century as a working physician, Cole died. She had fought incredible odds to train and work as a doctor. She had also fought ceaselessly for the medical rights of African Americans, women, children, and the poor. Though little is known about her personal life, it is easy to guess that her commitment to medical access influenced many of her contemporaries. Hopefully, as her story becomes more well know, future generations will also be inspired by her dedication.

Awards Recieved
Cole was the second black woman to graduate from medical school (1867). She joined Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first white woman physician, in New York and taught hygiene and childcare to families in poor neighborhoods.
She also got an award for having a baby in highschool. (Back then it was very rare.)

“That would be the archaeological smoking gun, ... But we haven't found it yet.”
“If you imagine a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, this is just one piece in the middle of that puzzle,”

Read more:
Famous African American Scientists & Inventors: History & Biographies — Infoplease.com