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Institute for Innovative Education

papers of lawrence a. kohn


Lawrence A. Kohn, M.D. (1894-1977) was a member of the Department of Medicine of the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry from its opening in 1926. The Kohn papers consist largely of correspondence, reprints, and materials gathered by Edward C. Atwater, M.D. for his 1984 biographical pamphlet "Kohn here." The general correspondence, clippings and other miscellaneous materials came to the Miner Library after Dr. Kohn's death. The reprints, Dr. Kohn's iodine correspondence, the "Kohn here" materials, and his correspondence with Morris Missal and David Haller were presented to the Miner Library by Dr. Atwater in 1988. Processing of the Kohn papers was completed on January 25, 1989. The collection is contained in three document boxes occupying 1.5 linear feet.

Biographical Data

Lawrence Albert Kohn was born in New York City on June 19, 1894 to Albert Kohn, a New York jeweler, and Sophie Kupfer Kohn, of Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother was a medical graduate of the New York Infirmary Medical College for Women (June 1890), and practiced for a time in the city of New York.

LAK received his undergraduate degree from Williams College in 1914. He worked as an Assistant in Bacteriology for the Health Department of the City of New York from 1914 to 1917, and served as a second lieutenant with the Central Medical Department Laboratory of the American Expeditionary Force in 1918-19. LAK received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1923, and interned at Hopkins in 1923-24. The following year he was an Assistant Resident Physician at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and in 1925 came to the newly formed University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry as the Department of Medicine's first chief resident. Remaining in Rochester, he was appointed Instructor in Medicine in 1926; Assistant Professor, 1929-41; Associate Professor, 1941-1958; and Clinical Professor, 1958-1962. LAK was made Clinical Professor of Medicine Emeritus in 1962.

In May 1956 LAK was presented the Award of Merit by the Rochester Academy of Medicine, and in October 1956 received the Gold Medal of the Rochester Medical Alumni Association. In 1965 he was awarded the Academy's Albert David Kaiser Medal.

In 1935(?), LAK married Sally Calkins Wood of Rochester, who authored mysteries under her maiden name. They had one son (Ted), who became a sculptor.

The Papers

The Kohn papers are one of the few faculty collections in the Archives originating from a clinician. The collection includes general correspondence (1913?-1977) and correspondence pertaining to his work on the relation between iodine and hyperthyroidism (1972-1977). It also includes an apparently complete set of reprints (much of which reflects his early interest in bacteriology); and materials collected by Edward C. Atwater for his biographical memoir on Dr. Kohn published in 1984. This latter group of materials consists of Dr. Atwater's correspondence with those associated with LAK, a large number of photographs, and Dr. Atwater's own notes, drafts, etc.

Of special interest is a typescript of Sophie Kupfer's journal of her medical journey to Paris from July through October, 1890 (Box 1, folder 1). Of particular interest to the history of the Medical and Nursing Center are LAK's reminiscences on its early years in "The medical service a half century ago" (Box 2, folder 12), and LAK's 1973 interview with E.C. Atwater (Box 2, folder 13).

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