This Day in Black History: March 16, 1846

Dr. Rebecca J. Cole was born in Philadelphia.

Posted: 03/16/2013 07:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Public Domain)

Rebecca J. Cole, the second Black woman in the United States to earn a medical degree, was born in Philadelphia on March 16, 1846.

As a young child, Cole excelled in her studies and went on to attend the prestigious Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, presently Cheyney University. She continued on to medical school at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1867 and becoming the first Black women to earn her M.D. from the school and the second African-American to do so in the U.S. (she followed Rebecca Lee Crumpler's achievement in 1864).

Cole was an advocate for providing medical care to the poor, practicing medicine at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, a woman-run hospital, and serving as superintendent of the Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C. With a career spanning more than 50 years, she dedicated her life to caring for underprivileged families.

At age 76, she passed away on August 14, 1922.

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