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Biographical Note Jacob Da Silva Solis-Cohen (1838-1927) was born in New York on 28 February 1838, the son of Myer David Cohen and Judith S. Solis. One of four children, his siblings included Leon (1840-1884), David (1850-1928), and Solomon (1857-1948). A graduate of Central High School in Philadelphia, Jacob attended lectures at Jefferson Medical College but received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1860. During the Civil War, he first enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army but then transferred to the Medical Corps as an Assistant Surgeon. After one year, he resigned this commission and became an Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Navy for the remainder of the War.
Early in his career, Jacob adopted laryngology as his specialty in an era when specialization was viewed with skepticism. Affiliated with Jefferson Medical College, Jacob's first appointment came in 1867 as a Lecturer in Electrotherapeutics. In 1869, he became the Lecturer in Laryngoscopy and Diseases of the Chest and in 1882 was appointed honorary Professor of Laryngology. Jacob continued to lecture at Jefferson until his retirement in 1888. An author of several medical publications, some of his more influential included:
In addition to his clinical work and teaching, Jacob was the founder and second president of the American Laryngological Association (1878), began the Archives of Laryngology (1880), and served as President of the Philadelphia County Medical Society (1887-1888). He is also credited with performing the first successful laryngotomy for cancer of a vocal cord on 25 February 1868.
In 1875 Jacob married Miriam Binswanger (1852-1909); the couple had eleven children. Eight of these children survived infancy; among them was Myer Solis-Cohen (1877-1960). Jacob died in Philadelphia on 22 December 1927.
Within Series A (Personal papers) are materials relating to Jacob's education prior to medical school including school essays, poetry, and other educational papers. The series also contains family correspondence, mainly to Myer; addresses, essays, lectures and associated papers, documenting Jacob's view on political issues relating to WW-I and Jewish affairs; and poetry, humorous essays, etc.
Series B (Medical) focuses on Jacob’s medical career and includes letters of appointment to various hospitals, his residency at Philadelphia General Hospital, copies of his published works, and his involvement with various medical societies. The largest portion of this series documents Jacob’s clinical practice. Subseries B.4 primarily contains lectures to students at Jefferson Medical College and case reports focusing on Jacob's surgical techniques in laryngotomy and laryngectomy for cancer treatment. In addition this subseries contains lecture notes, addresses, and presentations of scientific works at medical societies. In some cases, associated supporting notes and references accompany the addresses. Clinical practice notes and papers include Jacob’s books of medical formularies ("recipes") and correspondence and financial papers regarding his shipment of horses to New York for the purpose of preparing horse antitoxin serum for diphtheria. They also contain correspondence with medical instrumentation suppliers about the development of the laryngoscope and refinement of numerous surgical instruments.
Organization and Arrangement
Related Materials in Other Series
IV.A.2 David Hays Solis-Cohen reception at Jefferson Medical College. Information on Jacob's medical education.
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