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Jonathan Cohen Papers

Call Number: MS111

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, research papers, articles, photographs, negatives (including one glass negatives), memoranda, manuscript drafts, grant reviews, and notes. The bulk of the materials date from 1950-1967. Materials relate to Cohen’s research on implants and joint and bone pathology, his work on the centennial history of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), and his work with Dr. Sydney Farber, founder of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Correspondence concerns evaluations of grant proposals for the Children’s Medical Center, comments on patients, visits and assistantships at the Harvard Medical School, his work regarding implant hardware, and some personal notes regarding invitation to events. The office files pertain to Cohen’s research and articles as well as work for the JBJS. Office files contain correspondence, photographs, and negatives.


  • Creation: 1950 -- 2003


Language of Materials



This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Biographical / Historical

Jonathan Cohen (1915-2003) was a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine from 1974-2001. Dr. Cohen was a pioneer in orthopedic care, wrote for and edited several major medical journals, and served as both a teacher and researcher.

Jonathan Cohen was born in 1915 in New York City and died November 13, 2003 in Deer Isle, Maine. He received his B.A. from New York University in 1933 and his M.D. from St. Louis University Medical School in 1938. Cohen interned at the Jewish Hospital in St. Louis from 1938-1939, and completed his surgical training in Georgia (1939-1940) and Montreal (1940-1941). From 1946-1948 he was a resident at Children’s Hospital in Boston. After his residences, he was appointed to the staff of Children’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School focusing on pediatric orthopedics. He became an Assistant Professor at Harvard in 1959. In 1961, he became assistant editor at Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and was appointed Deputy Editor in 1967. He began teaching at Tufts University School of Medicine in 1973 and was awarded Emeritus status at Tufts in 1988. He remained active in research and clinical practice until 2001.

Cohen served as an Army physician with the 105th General Hospital during World War II. There he and his colleagues developed the mobile army surgical unit (MASH), which could be dismantled, transported, and assembled in ninety minutes. Cohen authored or co-authored 110 refereed papers and articles regarding his work on the bone pathology for dozens of leading journals. He was very active in the creation of The Jimmy Fund, a non-profit institution dedicated to children’s critical care.

Cohen's medical research focused on the effects of chemical build up in bones and the development of materials for use in prostheses. In 1950, Cohen began research that was important in establishing a foundation in the analysis of chemicals and bones. Along with colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he studied the effects of radioisotopes that concentrate in bones (such as radium, thorium, radon and uranium), a major health concern in the aftermath of nuclear testing and nuclear plant accidents. He also helped develop prostheses and held over three hundred patents for devices that are now commonly used. Cohen and his colleagues helped popularize total joint replacement for millions of patients worldwide who were incapacitated due to fractures, arthritis or musculoskeletal afflictions.

Jonathan Cohen was married to Louise Alden Cohen of Deer Isle. He had four stepchildren, Robin Alden, Abigail Alden, Eliza Alden, and Stephen Proskauer. He died on Nov. 13, 2003, in Deer Isle, Maine, after a short illness.


1.0 Linear Feet


This collection is grouped loosely by format: correspondence, office files, and prints and negatives and then further arranged in alphabetical order within these categories.

Processing Information

This collection is processed. A folder titled “Correspondence F” suggests that there may have been more extensive correspondence but none was found at the time of. Sixty specimen slides, dating from 1945 to 1973, were de-accessioned. They were determined to be of low research value and were destroyed after an offer to the Medical School elicited no interest.

This collection was processed in 2015 by Rose Oliveira in consultation with Adrienne Pruitt .

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States