Emily Bacon

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Emily Bacon
BornFebruary 10, 1891
Known forestablishment of first “well-baby clinic"
Home townPhiladelphia

Emily Partridge Bacon was the first physician in Philadelphia to devote her practice exclusively to pediatrics. She introduced numerous innovations in her fifty-year hospital career, including the creation of a "well-baby" clinic, and a counseling service for troubled children. She was also a much-loved teacher and combined her clinical practice with a teaching career at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania for over thirty years.

Early life[edit]

Emily Partridge Bacon, daughter of Mary Ella Partridge and Joseph Thomas Bacon, was born in Moorestown Township, New Jersey on February 10, 1891. She had four other siblings, Florence Thayer Bacon, Mary Ella Bacon, Lloyd Harris Bacon, and Stanley Shumway Bacon.[1] Emily Bacon entered Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1908. During her college years, she was very active in the school's social and athletic life, serving as class president for three of her four years, participating in several literary societies, and playing right halfback on the field hockey team. Apparently, Bacon recalled her college years with great fondness. She maintained a strong relationship with Wilson for much of her life, serving as an alumnae trustee and a member of the Wilson College Board for nearly two decades, from the early 1930s to the 1950s.

Medical experience[edit]

After graduating from Wilson in 1912, Emily Bacon earned her doctor of medicine degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1916. She returned to Philadelphia to accept a pediatric residency at Mary J. Drexel Hospital, a position she held until 1928, when she was the first woman appointed to the senior staff at the institution. When the hospital merged with the nearby Lankenau Hospital a few years later, Dr. Bacon was appointed Lankenau's first chief of pediatrics.

She remained at Lankenau until 1952, and even after her retirement as chief of pediatrics was a pediatric consultant until 1965. During this same period, she was also affiliated with the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP). Bacon accepted a position as an instructor of pediatrics at WMCP in 1919, becoming a full professor six years later. She became professor emeritus in 1953, and retired from teaching at the age of 62.

Scientific journal publications[edit]

Over Emily Bacon’s career, she wrote many scientific journals both independently and as a group. Specifically, two of her independent works both focused on children and healthcare. This makes considerable sense because she was a successful pediatrician. In “The Problems of Health Agencies As We See Them,” Bacon tackled the issues regarding the medical treatment of children and offered potential ways to fix these “stupendous” issues.[2] The other scientific journal that focused exclusively on pediatrics was "Practical Aspects of Infant Feeding.” [3] This work highlighted how critical it is that a doctor properly explains to a mother how to best care for an infant so that the child could receive the best nutrition. Though these publications were exclusive to pediatrics, her knowledge in general medical practices and plant physiology were represented in other works in which she contributed. For example, Bacon’s ideas about proper medical practices were illustrated in “When a Peritonsillar Abscess Is Not a Peritonsillar Abscess: Using Bedside Emergency Ultrasound to Change the Diagnosis” [4] and “Tips and Troubleshooting for Use of the GlideScope Video Laryngoscope for Emergency Endotracheal Intubation.” [5] Her research and analysis with dark-grown maize roots was published in "Plasma Membrane NADH Oxidase of Maize Roots Responds to Gravity and Imposed Centrifugal Forces.” [6] These are scientific works are only a handful of Bacon’s works, but they represent the diverse themes of her research and writings.

Well-Baby Clinic[edit]

Emily Bacon pioneered the first “well-baby clinic" in Philadelphia in the early 1900s. Because her medical career began in 1916, the establishment of the well-baby clinic would have coincided with the smallpox, diphtheria and tetanus vaccination programs. A “well-baby clinic” is a service center, with emphasis on physical and mental hygiene and prophylaxis, where mothers are seen with their young, healthy infants and helped to understand and manage the infant's unfolding maturation and development.[7]


By all accounts, Bacon was a well-loved and much-respected teacher, pediatrician, and colleague. She made many contributions to the practice of pediatrics in Philadelphia. Her well-respected skill in the field of pediatrics also made her a frequently requested speaker, and she often appeared before parent-teacher groups, nurses and church and club women to discuss issues of child health, nutrition, and preventive medicine. Routinely described as dedicated, unselfish, and fair, Bacon no doubt had a lasting impact on the health of thousands of Philadelphia children, as a pediatrician and as a teacher, helping to train generations of physicians in pediatrics. Bacon died in 1972.


  1. ^ Genealogy of the Shumway Family in the United States. T.A. Wright. 1909.
  2. ^ Bacon, Emily (1925). "The Problems of Children as the Health Agencies See Them". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 121: 154–159.
  3. ^ Bacon, Emily (1952). "Practical Aspects of Infant Feeding". Medical Clinics of North America. 36.6: 1555–1560.
  4. ^ Bacon and Tabbot (2016). "When a Peritonsillar Abscess Is Not a Peritonsillar Abscess: Using Bedside Emergency Ultrasound to Change the Diagnosis". American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 34: 1186.e5–1186.e7.
  5. ^ Bacon; et al. (2015). ""Tips and Troubleshooting for Use of the GlideScope Video Laryngoscope for Emergency Endotracheal Intubation"". American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 33 (9): 1273–1277.
  6. ^ Bacon and James Morré (2001). "Plasma Membrane NADH Oxidase of Maize Roots Responds to Gravity and Imposed Centrifugal Forces". Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 39 (6): 487–494.
  7. ^ Freud, W. Ernest; Freud, Irene (1976-12-01). "The well-baby clinic". Child Psychiatry and Human Development. 7 (2): 67–84. doi:10.1007/bf01464031. ISSN 0009-398X.

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