Interview: Edwards, Lena Frances, 1982


Resource class
Interview: Edwards, Lena Frances, 1982
Edwards, Lena Frances
Birth Year
Birth Place
Washington, DC
Holmes, Linda
Location Created
Jersey City, New Jersey
Date Created
7 December 1982
Lena Frances Edwards, M.D., (1900-1986) was an African American obstetrician and gynecologist who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her service in 1964. Dr. Edwards graduated from Howard University College of Medicine in 1924. For most of her 59 years of professional life, she practiced medicine in Jersey City, New Jersey, both in private practice and on the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital staff. During her years in Jersey City, Dr. Edwards started a chapter of College Women National, the Jersey City College Women, an organization that raised money to give tuition to women who wanted to earn an education. Dr. Edwards taught at Howard University from 1954 to 1960, following in the footsteps of her father who taught at Howard University School of Dentistry. After her time at Howard, she began an endowment scholarship fund for Black women from poor backgrounds.

Dr. Edwards was interviewed as part of the Medical History Society of New Jersey-Oral History Program's project "The Health Professions in New Jersey During the Great Depression, 1929-1939." The interview was conducted on December 7, 1982, at the Jewish Hospital, Jersey City, by Linda Holmes, who was a professor at UMDNJ-School of Health-Related Professions.

The interview focuses on Dr. Edwards' general and obstetric practice during the 1920s and 1930s largely centered on the African American, immigrant, and blue-collar populations. The conversation also addresses her philanthropic efforts throughout her life.

In addition to this oral history interview housed at Rutgers, researchers interested in Dr. Edwards's life and work in New Jersey are also encouraged to consult the oral history recordings and transcripts on file at Harvard University's Schlesinger Library, where Dr. Edwards was interviewed in 1977 as part of the Black Women Oral History Project. The Schlesinger Library has digitized the transcripts and audio recordings from that project, and they can be found on the library's website.

Additionally, a biographical book about Dr. Edwards was published in 1979, titled Medicine, Motherhood and Mercy: The Story of a Black Woman Doctor, written by Sister M. Anthony Scally.
Source Project Description
"The Health Professions in New Jersey During the Great Depression, 1929-1939," was an oral history project conducted by the Medical History Society of New Jersey in the early 1980s.
Special Collections in the History of Medicine, George F. Smith Library of the Health Sciences, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Newark Campus

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