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Lena Frances Edwards

Lena Frances Edwards (1900-1986) graduated from Howard University Medical School in 1924. She then established her medical practice in Jersey City in 1925.

Her practice was mostly within the European immigrant community. An advocate of natural childbirth, she struggled for years before her acceptance into the residency program in obstetrics and gynecology at Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City. During her long career, she taught obstetrics at Howard University Medical School, was a medical advisor to the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and volunteered at a mission for Mexican migrant workers in Texas. President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized her long career in service to others in 1964 when he awarded Edwards the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A devout Roman Catholic, she received the Poverello Medal in 1967, as one whose life exemplifies the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi.


Burstyn, Joan N. 1990. “Lena Frances Edwards”. Past and Promise, Lives of New 

Jersey Women. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54794989 

Edwards-Madison, Lena Frances, and Merze Tate. 1980. Interview with Lena Edwards,
M.D.: November 13-14, 1977. [Cambridge, MA]: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe 

College. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/6578816 

Scally, Sister Anthony. Dr. Lena Edwards: People Lover. Negro History Bulletin 39, no. 5 (May 1, 1976): 592. http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.proquest.com%2Fscholarly-journals%2Fdr-lena-edwards-people-lover%2Fdocview%2F1296810002%2Fse-2%3Faccountid%3D13605.

Questions to Explore

How does Edwards life exemplify the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi?

What helped Edwards gain acceptance into the residency program in obstretrics and gynecology at Margaret Hague Hospital?

What inspired Edwards to study obstretrics?

Additional Resources

Wolfteich, Claire. Mothering, Public Leadership, and Women’s Life Writing: Explorations in Spirituality Studies and Practical Theology. Netherlands: Brill, 2017.

“LENA FRANCES EDWARDS. M.D.” In The Black Women Oral History Project, Originally published 1991., Cplt.:5024–26. Berlin, Boston: DE GRUYTER SAUR, 1991. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110973914.5024.