Jacobi in 1912
May 6, 1830|
Hille, German Confederation
|Died||July 10, 1919
Bolton Landing, New York
|Spouse(s)||Fanny Meyer Jacobi (1833−1851)
Mary Putnam Jacobi
Abraham Jacobi (May 6, 1830 – July 10, 1919) was a pioneer of pediatrics, opening the first children's clinic in the United States. To date, he is the only foreign-born president of the American Medical Association. He helped found the American Journal of Obstetrics.
Born in Hartum (now a district of Hille), Westphalia, he was the son of a poor Jewish shopkeeper and his wife who educated him at great sacrifice. He attended the gymnasium in Minden. After graduating there, he studied medicine at the universities of Greifswald, Göttingen, and Bonn, receiving an MD at Bonn in 1851. Shortly thereafter, Jacobi joined the revolutionary movement in Germany (see Revolution of 1848). He was detained in prisons at Berlin and Cologne in 1851, and eventually convicted of treason and imprisoned at Minden and Bielefeld until his discharge in the summer of 1853. Upon release, Jacobi sailed to England, where he stayed with both Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. In the following autumn he moved to New York where he settled as a practicing physician.
Starting in 1861 at the New York Medical College, he was a professor of childhood diseases. From 1867 to 1870, he was chair of the medical department of the City University of New York. He taught at Columbia University from 1870 to 1902. He later moved to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he established the first Department of Pediatrics at a general hospital.
He was president of the New York Pathological and Obstetrical Societies, and twice of the Medical Society of the County of New York, visiting physician to the German Hospital beginning 1857, to Mount Sinai Hospital beginning 1860, to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the infant hospital on Randall's Island beginning 1868, and to Bellevue Hospital beginning 1874. In 1882 he was president of the New York State Medical Society, and in 1885 became president of the New York Academy of Medicine. From 1868 to 1871, he was joint editor of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children.
Civic work was an important part of his life. He advocated birth control and civil service reform and opposed prohibition. He was strongly anti-Hohenzollern during World War I. In the summer of 1918, a house fire destroyed the manuscript of his autobiography and other personal papers at his Lake George home.
His first wife, Fanny Meyer Jacobi (1833−1851), was a sister of Sophie Meyer Boas (1828−1916), the mother of ethnologist Franz Boas, who also attended the gymnasium in Minden. In 1873, he married Mary Putnam Jacobi, also a physician. She was the first woman student at Faculté de Médecine de Paris in Paris, France. They had three children, one of whom, Marjorie McAneny, survived to adulthood.
- Contributions to Midwifery and Diseases of Women and Children (with E. Noeggerath; New York, 1859)
- Dentition and its Derangements (1862)
- The Raising and Education of Abandoned Children in Europe (1870)
- Infant Diet (1874)
- Treatise on Diphtheria (1880)
Jacobi contributed chapters on the care and nutrition of children, diphtheria, and dysentery to Gerhardt's Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten (Tübingen, 1877), and on diphtheria, rachitis, and laryngitis to Pepper's System of Practical Medicine (Philadelphia), and has published lectures and reports on midwifery and female and infantile disease, and articles in medical journals. His Sarcoma of the Kidney in the Fœtus and Infant is printed in the Transactions of the International Medical Congress at Copenhagen.
- Abraham Jacobi and Carl Schurz Memorial Park in Bolton Landing, New York
- A collection of his papers is held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. 
- Jacobi Medical Center, New York
- "Dr. Abraham Jacobi Dies Suddenly At 89. Dean of American Medical Profession Stricken at His Summer Home on Lake George. Honored By Universities.". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
Foremost Authority on Pediatrics. Had Been Head of Great Societies. Compatriot with Schurz. Began His Career Here 65 Years ago. Accused of Treason and Imprisoned. Professor in Many Colleges. His Comment on Dr. Osler's Praise. Dr. Abraham Jacobi, the noted physician, died at his Summer home at Bolton Landing at 11 o'clock last night after an illness lasting only a few hours. Although he was 89 years old Dr. Jacobi had been active until yesterday afternoon, when he had a slight fainting spell. ...
- Lawrence M. Gartner (1999). "Jacobi, Abraham". American National Biography 11. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 782–784.
- Edward Preble (1928–1990). "Jacobi, Abraham". Dictionary of American Biography. V, Part 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 563–564.
- Miller, Julie (2008). Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City. New York: New York University Press. p. 178.
- "Abraham Jacobi Papers 1890-1893". National Library of Medicine.
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1892). "Jacobi, Abraham". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
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