More about my cousin Dr. Leila Berkin

I’m very excited to be able to post again with more information on Leila. I still don’t have any of her notes as a doctor in China in the late 1800s early 1900s but I now have her medical school: Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia. Unrelated to her by blood, my great- and great-great grandfathers were physicians in Philadelphia. I’ve tried to find the address of their practice on Google Earth but I think it no longer exists.

I was told by Leila’s great granddaughter that not only was Leila one of the few woman doctors of the time, but she was also a vegetarian! That’s progressive for the era and touches my heart, since I’ve been vegetarian since I was 18. (Her birthdate is also my sister’s, and is Earth Day!)

In response to my first post about Leila, cousins in England set the record straight on Kuling, China not being bleak. Those who read this on my Marie Judson, Writer facebook page will have seen the responses but I’ll share them here.

Louisa (Judson) Doolittle, Leila’s mother, my great-great aunt. She grew up on a farm north of Detroit.

After Leila passed away, her husband remarried and his grandson by the second wife wrote: “I gained the impression that my father had a very happy, barefoot childhood in Kuling, with his little brother. I think that it was a lost Eden to him and not bleak at all.”

Leila’s great-granddaughter corroborated: “According to Granny (Leila’s daughter), living in Kuling was magical – it seemed that they ran wild in the bamboo forests and swam in river mountain pools, with little parental supervision.” This lush wonderland does not appear in photos I’ve found, which mostly show barren mountains surrounding the area. I’m hoping family members will have photos showing the lushness.

Leave a Reply