Emily Bacon was the first physician in Philadelphia to devote her practice exclusively to pediatricsthe care of children. She introduced numerous innovations in her fifty-year hospital career, including the creation of a "well-baby" clinic, and a counseling service for troubled children. She was also a much-loved teacher and combined her clinical practice with a teaching career at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania for over thirty years.
Born in Moorestown, New Jersey in 1891, Emily Bacon entered Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1908. During her college years, she was very active in the school's social and athletic life, serving as class president for three of her four years, participating in several literary societies, and playing right halfback on the field hockey team. Apparently, Bacon recalled her college years with great fondness. She maintained a strong relationship with Wilson for much of her life, serving as an alumnae trustee and a member of the Wilson College Board for nearly two decades, from the early 1930s to the 1950s.
After graduating from Wilson in 1912, Emily Bacon earned her doctor of medicine degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1916. She returned to Philadelphia to accept a pediatric residency at Mary J. Drexel Hospital, a position she held until 1928, when she was the first woman appointed to the senior staff at the institution. When the hopsital merged with the nearby Lankenau Hospital a few years later, Dr. Bacon was appointed Lankenau's first chief of pediatrics.
She remained at Lankenau until 1952, and even after her retirement as chief of pediatrics was a pediatric consultant until 1965. During this same period, she was also affiliated with the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP). Bacon accepted a position as an instructor of pediatrics at WMCP in 1919, becoming a full professor six years later. She became professor emeritus in 1953, and retired from teaching at the age of 62.
By all accounts, Dr. Emily Bacon was a well-loved and much-respected teacher, pediatrician, and colleague. She made many contributions to the practice of pediatrics in Philadelphia, including a pioneering effort to establish a 'well-baby" clinic at Lankenau as well as a counseling service for traumatized children. Her well-respected skill in the field of pediatrics also made her a frequently requested speaker, and she often appeared before parent-teacher groups, nurses and church and club women to discuss issues of child health, nutrition, and preventive medicine. Routinely described as dedicated, unselfish, and fair, Bacon no doubt had a lasting impact on the health of thousands of Philadelphia children, as a pediatrician and as a teacher, helping to train generations of physicians in pediatrics.