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Lena Frances Edwards Edit Profile


Lena Frances Edwards, American gynecologist/obstetrician. Diplomate American Board Ob-Gyn. Named Woman Doctor of Year New Jersey branch American Medical Women's Association, 1955; recipient Medal of Freedom, 1964. Fellow Inter. College Surgeons, American College Ob-Gyn.; member New Jersey League of Women Voters, National Federation Colored Women's Clubs, Delta Sigma Theta.


Lena Edwards was born in Washington, D.C., on September 17, 1900. She was the daughter of dentist and oral surgeon Thomas Edwards and Marie Coakley Edwards, a homemaker.


She completed her undergraduate studies at Howard University in three years, and graduated from Howard University Medical School in 1924.


Edwards was valedictorian of her class at Washington's Dunbar High School in 1917. While at Howard Edwards joined Delta Sigma Theta, and served as chapter president from 1920-1921. She and Keith Madison, a fellow student at the medical school, were married following their graduation.

They had six children together between 1925 and 1939. She separated from Madison in 1947. Edwards died in 1986 in Lakewood, New Jersey.

She became a speaker on public health and a natural childbirth advocate while serving the European immigrant community of Hudson County, New Jersey. In 1931, she joined the staff of Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City, but because her race and gender were regarded as barriers to professional advancement, she was not admitted to residency in obstetrics and gynecology there until 1945. Edwards returned to Washington in 1954 and taught obstetrics at Howard University Medical School.

She would not accept a position as department chair because of her religious objections to abortion. She was the medical adviser to the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and chaired the Maternal Welfare Committee of the District of Columbia Urban League. At the age of 60, Edwards helped found Our Lady of Guadeloupe Maternity Clinic in Hereford, Texas, a mission serving Mexican migrant worker families.

She served at the mission until 1965, when a heart attack led her to leave and move back to Washington. She worked there at the Office of Economic Opportunity and Project Head Start until her retirement in 1970.


  • Her service was recognized by President Johnson in 1964, when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1966 she was awarded an honorary degree from Saint Peter's College, New Jersey. She was awarded the Poverello Medal in 1967.


Edwards was a devout adherent of Roman Catholic Christianity throughout her life.


Fellow Inter. College Surgeons, American College Ob-Gyn. Member New Jersey League of Women Voters, National Federation Colored Women's Clubs, Delta Sigma Theta.


Married L. Keith Madison, June 7, 1924 (deceased 1980). Children: Marie S. (Mistress Victor Metoyer), Edward K., Genevieve A., Thomas A., John Jay, Paul F.

Thomas W. Edwards

Marie (Cookley) Edwards

L. Keith Madison

Marie S. Edwards (Mistress Victor Metoyer)

Edward K. Edwards

Genevieve A. Edwards

Thomas A. Edwards

John Jay Edwards

Paul F. Edwards