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Jacobi, Abraham


JACOBI, ABRAHAM (1830–1919), pediatrician, founder of American pediatrics. He was born in Hartum, Germany, to parents of limited means. He registered as a student of Semitic languages, but later studied medicine, graduating from Bonn University. While he was studying, the 1848 Revolution broke out in Germany, and Jacobi became a revolutionary leader. He was imprisoned but escaped in 1853 to the United States. A year later, in New York, he invented a laryngoscope, but failed to obtain a patent for his invention (before Manuel Garcia's invention in 1855).

Jacobi was appointed to lecture on children's illnesses in 1857, and in 1860 the first chair in pediatrics in New York was founded for him; he lectured for almost 25 years. His activities included the organization of the children's ward at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Jacobi was one of the first to insist on the boiling of milk, and one of the first to practice intubation of the throat instead of performing a tracheotomy. In 1859 he and E. Noeggerath wrote a textbook for midwives and on children's and women's diseases.

Jacobi wrote on a large number of pediatric problems: the throat (1859), diet for children (1872), diphtheria (1876), intestinal illness (1887), the thymus gland (1889), and infant and child care (1896–1902). Jacobi also contributed three monographs to Gerhard's Handbuch, manual on hygiene in childbirth (1876), diphtheria (1877), and dysentery (1877). He also published important works on the history of pediatrics. His writings were published in eight volumes under the title Collectanea Jacobi (1898; Dr. Jacobi's Works, 1909).


Garrison, in: Science, 50 (1919), 102–4; A. Levinson, Pioneers of Pediatrics (1943), 102–5.

[Joshua O. Leibowitz]

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