Skip to main content

Papers of the Solis-Cohen Family

 Collection
Identifier: P-642

Scope and Content Note

The Papers of the Solis-Cohen Family is composed of material mostly from the period from the Civil War through the 1930's, although it also includes some material from both earlier and later dates. Although the collection does not preserve the total volume of papers produced by this large and intellectually active family, its importance for American Jewish history is immense.

This collection is valuable to researchers studying not only the lives and genealogies of the Solis and Solis-Cohen family, but also students of the Civil War, Jewish communal activities, early Zionist activities and particularly the ways in which Jews have assimilated and contributed to secular National affairs.

The collection contains correspondence, diaries and journal, medical papers, and eulogies; various materials concerning the Joint Distribution Committee, German refugees in the 1930's, Zionist Organization of America, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Palestine, the National Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, Clinical Proceedings of the Jewish Hospital, typescript essays; committee reports, financial records and printed materials about the School of the Parents' Education Association in Israel, as well as correspondence with Sophie Udin, Henrietta Szold, Stephen S. Wise, John Hanes Holmes, Julian Mack and Horace Kallen; research notes and correspondence for genealogical studies of the Cardozo, Etting, Menken, Nathan, Nones, Peixotto, and Solis families; correspondence, news clippings, histories, genealogies, photographs, printed material on members of the extended Solis-Cohen family such as Solomon Nunes Carvalho, David Barrak Hays, Bernhard Marks, Clara Binswanger, Aaron Levy and Hyman Polock; as well as correspondence, photographs, histories and printed works by the great Jewish historian of England, Cecil Roth. There are also artifacts, art work, and other ephemera. The collection is primarily in English, with some Hebrew language materials.

Dates

  • undated, 1808-1990

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Biographical Note

The Solis-Cohen family is of Sephardic origin, tracing its ancestry back to the time of the expulsion from Spain after 1492 during the time of the Inquisition, specifically back to Solomon da Silva Solis (Jacob's great-grandfather), who fled to Amsterdam from Spain in the 17th century and married Isabel da Fonseca, daughter of the marquis of Turin, count of Villa Real and Monterrey. The family established itself in the United States with the arrival of Jacob da Silva Solis from London on October 25, 1803. Jacob's grandfather (Solomon da Silva Solis) is reported to have refused succession to the marquisate of Turin, since it would have required his defection from Judaism. Many of Jacob's descendants were born and lived in Philadelphia.

This large Sephardic family, with roots in antebellum Philadelphia, was active in Colonial and Revolutionary public affairs. There have been seven generations of Jacob's descendants, and family members have had and still have among them many who are respected for their notable accomplishments in the areas of medicine, literature, art, law, real estate and Jewish communal service, at both the national as well as local levels.

Biographical Sketches Jacob da Silva Solis was born in London, on August 4, 1780 to Solomon da Silva Solis and Benvenida de Isaac Henriques Valentine and arrived in the United States (in New Orleans, according to family tradition) on October 25, 1803. He married Charity Hays (daughter of David Barrack Hays of Westchester, New York) on April 24, 1811, with whom he had five daughters (Benveneda, Esther Etting, Judith Simha, Sarah Miriam and Phoebe Elizabeth) and two sons (Solomon and David Hays). He lived in Wilmington, Delaware for approximately seven years (where he and his brother Daniel operated a dry goods and quill pen business from 1814-1816); temporarily in New Orleans, Louisiana (where he founded Congregation Shanarai Chasset in 1827); and Mt. Pleasant, New York, where he was affiliated with Congregation Shearith Israel, and where he died on December 29, 1829 at the early age of 49. These papers are continued by his grandsons (through his daughter Judith) Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, Leon Solis-Cohen and Solomon da Silva Solis-Cohen and his great grandson, Jacob da Silva, Jr., as well as by two of his grandchildren, Elvira Nathan Solis and Isaac Nathan Solis (daughter and son of David Hays).

Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, M.D., was born on February 28, 1838 in New York City to Myer David Cohen and Judith Simha Solis. He was an elder brother of Leon da Silva Solis-Cohen and Solomon Solis-Cohen and a grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. In 1875 he married Miriam Binswanger, with whom he had eight daughters (Judith Simira, Sophia Rebecca, Miriam Fonseca, Elinor, Rosalie Isabel, Bertha Florence, Esther and Edith) and three sons (Myer, Jacob da Silva, Jr. and Isadore). During the Civil War he served as Assistant Surgeon to the Union Army in the Twenty-Sixth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. After serving in Hooker's Brigade in the defense of Washington, D.C., he later transferred to the Navy as Acting Assistant Surgeon, serving under Rear Admiral S.F. DuPont, in the expedition to Port Royal Harbor, South Carolina, on the United States Steamer "Florida." He remained in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron until January 12, 1864, when he resigned from the Navy.

He attended Jefferson Medical College, and in 1860 received his medical degree from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. An eminent physician, he was an internationally renowned pioneer nose and throat specialist and a founder of the Philadelphia Polyclinic, becoming its first professor of diseases of the throat and chest. He later received an honorary professorship at the Jefferson Medical College. He wrote pioneering treatises in his specialty and was one of the founders of the American Laryngologic Association (President, 1880-1882). He founded and edited the Archives of Laryngology. He died in Philadelphia in 1927.

Leon da Silva Solis-Cohen , Esq., was born in Philadelphia on October 16, 1840 to Myer David Cohen and Judith Simha Solis. He was a brother of Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen and Solomon Solis-Cohen, and a grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. On April 10, 1872 he married a cousin, Lucia Manness Ritterband, with whom he had two daughters (Jessie Myra and Gertrude) and one son (Leon Manness). He served in the Union army in the Keystone Battery, during the Civil War, until just before the Battle of Gettysburg, when he was medically disabled. He was an attorney and a writer of prose and poetry, sometimes writing as "Lemon S. Cream" or by the pseudonym "Sh'muel". He died an early death on September 19, 1884 at age 44.

Solomon Solis-Cohen, M.D., was born in Philadelphia to Myer David Cohen and Judith Simha Solis on September 1, 1857. He was a brother of Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen and Leon da Silva Solis-Cohen, and a grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. He married his cousin Emily Grace Solis on March 24, 1885, also in Philadelphia, and with whom he had three sons (David Hays, Leon and Francis Nathan) and one daughter (Emily Elvira). He died on July 12, 1948 in Philadelphia. He attended Jefferson Medical College, where he received his medical degree in 1883, and served as professor of clinical medicine from 1902 to 1927. He also taught at the Philadelphia Polyclinic (1887-1902) and at Dartmouth College (1890-1892). He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a trustee of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia Convention. His basic research in medicine was widely noted.

He was active in Jewish affairs as the founder of the associate organization of the YMHA of Philadelphia; a founder and trustee of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; and a founder of the Jewish Publication Society of America. One of the earliest Zionists in the United States, he attended the Third Zionist Congress at Basel (1899), and was for a time a member of the provisional executive of the Zionist Organization of America during the first World War. In 1929 he was appointed a non-Zionist member of the new Jewish Agency for Palestine.

In addition to being a physician, he was also a poet, publishing When Love Passed by and Other Verses and translations from Hebrew poets of the Middle Ages. A selection of his writings and addresses was published under the title Judaism and Science and Other Addresses which contains a full bibliography of his writings.

Isaac Nathan Solis, Esq., was born in 1857, the son of David Hays Solis and Elvira Nathan Solis, and died in 1909. In 1880 he married Marcia Morgan; they had five children, of whom two died in infancy. He was an attorney.

Emily Grace Solis Solis-Cohen was born on November 26, 1859 in Philadelphia to David Hays Solis and Elvira Nathan Solis. She married her first cousin Solomon Solis-Cohen, M.D. in that same city on March 24, 1885 with whom she had three sons (David Hays, Leon and Francis Nathan) and one daughter (Emily Elvira, also known as Emily Solis-Cohen, Jr., who never married). She died on November 31, 1936, also in Philadelphia. Active in Jewish community affairs, Emily Solis-Cohen was also greatly involved in Zionist affairs, especially raising funds for the School of the Parents' Education Association in Jerusalem.

Elvira Nathan Solis was born sometime in the 1860s and died in New York on November 30, 1953. She was the daughter of David Hays Solis and Elvira Nathan Solis, sister of Emily Grace Soils Solis-Cohen and Isaac Nathan Solis, and a granddaughter of Jacob da Silva Solis. She engaged in extensive genealogical studies of various families from which she descended. She never married.

Emily Elvira Solis-Cohen, daughter of Solomon and Emily Grace Solis-Cohen, was born in Philadelphia in 1886. In her early years she studied with Henrietta Szold and Lucy Wilson. She later became a welfare worker and was the author of children's books as well as poems, miscellaneous articles and monographs on the status of women in Jewish law and Jewish religious festivals. For many years the field secretary of the Jewish Welfare Board, she organized and promoted the YWHA and other Jewish women's organizations. She never married, and died at Philadelphia in 1969.

Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, Jr., was born in Philadelphia on June 26, 1890 to Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, M.D. and Miriam Binswanger Solis-Cohen. He was a great grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. On December 13, 1916, he married Marion Gimbel Labe in Philadelphia, with whom he had two daughters (Mary and Ann). [Ann Solis-Cohen Rosenthal and her husband Charles are the donors of this collection.] He died on July 8, 1968. A prominent realtor in Philadelphia, he was President of Mastbaum Brothers and Fleisher and of Albert M. Greenfield and Company. As a genealogist he conducted historical research of his family, and published articles and addresses on his results. His service to the Jewish community included, among others, Presidencies of the Jewish Publication Society of America, the Philadelphia Branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and honorary president of Congregation Mikveh Israel. He wrote a paper on the founder of the family, "Jacob S. Solis: Traveling Advocate of American Judaism." [American Jewish History Quarterly, 52 (1962-63), 310].

References

Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 15. (Jerusalem: Encyclopedia Judaica, 1972).

Kagen, Solomon R. Jewish Contributions to Medicine in America. (Boston: Boston Medical Publishing Co., 1939)

Solis-Cohen, Jacob da Silva, Jr. in The Jewish Experience in America, Vol. 2, pp. 335-386 (on Jacob da Silva). Abraham J. Karp, editor (New York: DTAV Publishing House, 1969).

Stern, Malcolm H. First American Jewish Families, 3rd ed. (Baltimore: Ottenheimer Publishers, 1991).

The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 6 (New York: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc., 1943).

Biographical Sketches

Jacob da Silva Solis was born in London, on August 4, 1780 to Solomon da Silva Solis and Benvenida de Isaac Henriques Valentine and arrived in the United States (in New Orleans, according to family tradition) on October 25, 1803. He married Charity Hays (daughter of David Barrack Hays of Westchester, New York) on April 24, 1811, with whom he had five daughters (Benveneda, Esther Etting, Judith Simha, Sarah Miriam and Phoebe Elizabeth) and two sons (Solomon and David Hays). He lived in Wilmington, Delaware for approximately seven years (where he and his brother Daniel operated a dry goods and quill pen business from 1814-1816); temporarily in New Orleans, Louisiana (where he founded Congregation Shanarai Chasset in 1827); and Mt. Pleasant, New York, where he was affiliated with Congregation Shearith Israel, and where he died on December 29, 1829 at the early age of 49. These papers are continued by his grandsons (through his daughter Judith) Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, Leon Solis-Cohen and Solomon da Silva Solis-Cohen and his great grandson, Jacob da Silva, Jr., as well as by two of his grandchildren, Elvira Nathan Solis and Isaac Nathan Solis (daughter and son of David Hays).

Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, M.D., was born on February 28, 1838 in New York City to Myer David Cohen and Judith Simha Solis. He was an elder brother of Leon da Silva Solis-Cohen and Solomon Solis-Cohen and a grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. In 1875 he married Miriam Binswanger, with whom he had eight daughters (Judith Simira, Sophia Rebecca, Miriam Fonseca, Elinor, Rosalie Isabel, Bertha Florence, Esther and Edith) and three sons (Myer, Jacob da Silva, Jr. and Isadore). During the Civil War he served as Assistant Surgeon to the Union Army in the Twenty-Sixth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. After serving in Hooker's Brigade in the defense of Washington, D.C., he later transferred to the Navy as Acting Assistant Surgeon, serving under Rear Admiral S.F. DuPont, in the expedition to Port Royal Harbor, South Carolina, on the United States Steamer "Florida." He remained in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron until January 12, 1864, when he resigned from the Navy.

He attended Jefferson Medical College, and in 1860 received his medical degree from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. An eminent physician, he was an internationally renowned pioneer nose and throat specialist and a founder of the Philadelphia Polyclinic, becoming its first professor of diseases of the throat and chest. He later received an honorary professorship at the Jefferson Medical College. He wrote pioneering treatises in his specialty and was one of the founders of the American Laryngologic Association (President, 1880-1882). He founded and edited the Archives of Laryngology. He died in Philadelphia in 1927.

Leon da Silva Solis-Cohen , Esq., was born in Philadelphia on October 16, 1840 to Myer David Cohen and Judith Simha Solis. He was a brother of Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen and Solomon Solis-Cohen, and a grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. On April 10, 1872 he married a cousin, Lucia Manness Ritterband, with whom he had two daughters (Jessie Myra and Gertrude) and one son (Leon Manness). He served in the Union army in the Keystone Battery, during the Civil War, until just before the Battle of Gettysburg, when he was medically disabled. He was an attorney and a writer of prose and poetry, sometimes writing as "Lemon S. Cream" or by the pseudonym "Sh'muel". He died an early death on September 19, 1884 at age 44.

Solomon Solis-Cohen, M.D., was born in Philadelphia to Myer David Cohen and Judith Simha Solis on September 1, 1857. He was a brother of Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen and Leon da Silva Solis-Cohen, and a grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. He married his cousin Emily Grace Solis on March 24, 1885, also in Philadelphia, and with whom he had three sons (David Hays, Leon and Francis Nathan) and one daughter (Emily Elvira). He died on July 12, 1948 in Philadelphia. He attended Jefferson Medical College, where he received his medical degree in 1883, and served as professor of clinical medicine from 1902 to 1927. He also taught at the Philadelphia Polyclinic (1887-1902) and at Dartmouth College (1890-1892). He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a trustee of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia Convention. His basic research in medicine was widely noted.

He was active in Jewish affairs as the founder of the associate organization of the YMHA of Philadelphia; a founder and trustee of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; and a founder of the Jewish Publication Society of America. One of the earliest Zionists in the United States, he attended the Third Zionist Congress at Basel (1899), and was for a time a member of the provisional executive of the Zionist Organization of America during the first World War. In 1929 he was appointed a non-Zionist member of the new Jewish Agency for Palestine.

In addition to being a physician, he was also a poet, publishing When Love Passed by and Other Verses and translations from Hebrew poets of the Middle Ages. A selection of his writings and addresses was published under the title Judaism and Science and Other Addresses which contains a full bibliography of his writings.

Isaac Nathan Solis, Esq., was born in 1857, the son of David Hays Solis and Elvira Nathan Solis, and died in 1909. In 1880 he married Marcia Morgan; they had five children, of whom two died in infancy. He was an attorney.

Emily Grace Solis Solis-Cohen was born on November 26, 1859 in Philadelphia to David Hays Solis and Elvira Nathan Solis. She married her first cousin Solomon Solis-Cohen, M.D. in that same city on March 24, 1885 with whom she had three sons (David Hays, Leon and Francis Nathan) and one daughter (Emily Elvira, also known as Emily Solis-Cohen, Jr., who never married). She died on November 31, 1936, also in Philadelphia. Active in Jewish community affairs, Emily Solis-Cohen was also greatly involved in Zionist affairs, especially raising funds for the School of the Parents' Education Association in Jerusalem.

Elvira Nathan Solis was born sometime in the 1860s and died in New York on November 30, 1953. She was the daughter of David Hays Solis and Elvira Nathan Solis, sister of Emily Grace Soils Solis-Cohen and Isaac Nathan Solis, and a granddaughter of Jacob da Silva Solis. She engaged in extensive genealogical studies of various families from which she descended. She never married.

Emily Elvira Solis-Cohen, daughter of Solomon and Emily Grace Solis-Cohen, was born in Philadelphia in 1886. In her early years she studied with Henrietta Szold and Lucy Wilson. She later became a welfare worker and was the author of children's books as well as poems, miscellaneous articles and monographs on the status of women in Jewish law and Jewish religious festivals. For many years the field secretary of the Jewish Welfare Board, she organized and promoted the YWHA and other Jewish women's organizations. She never married, and died at Philadelphia in 1969.

Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, Jr., was born in Philadelphia on June 26, 1890 to Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen, M.D. and Miriam Binswanger Solis-Cohen. He was a great grandson of Jacob da Silva Solis. On December 13, 1916, he married Marion Gimbel Labe in Philadelphia, with whom he had two daughters (Mary and Ann). [Ann Solis-Cohen Rosenthal and her husband Charles are the donors of this collection.] He died on July 8, 1968. A prominent realtor in Philadelphia, he was President of Mastbaum Brothers and Fleisher and of Albert M. Greenfield and Company. As a genealogist he conducted historical research of his family, and published articles and addresses on his results. His service to the Jewish community included, among others, Presidencies of the Jewish Publication Society of America, the Philadelphia Branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and honorary president of Congregation Mikveh Israel. He wrote a paper on the founder of the family, "Jacob S. Solis: Traveling Advocate of American Judaism." [American Jewish History Quarterly, 52 (1962-63), 310].

References

Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 15. (Jerusalem: Encyclopedia Judaica, 1972).

Kagen, Solomon R. Jewish Contributions to Medicine in America. (Boston: Boston Medical Publishing Co., 1939)

Solis-Cohen, Jacob da Silva, Jr. in The Jewish Experience in America, Vol. 2, pp. 335-386 (on Jacob da Silva). Abraham J. Karp, editor (New York: DTAV Publishing House, 1969).

Stern, Malcolm H. First American Jewish Families, 3rd ed. (Baltimore: Ottenheimer Publishers, 1991).

The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 6 (New York: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc., 1943).

Extent

3 Linear Feet (6 manuscript boxes and 2 oversized folders)

Abstract

Family papers of the American Sephardic Solis and Cohen families, composed of materials created through circa. 19860, through to the 1930s, with some additional materials prior to and after the time period. Contains correspondence, diaries, journals, medical papers, and eulogies of the family; materials relating to Zionist and Jewish organizations in the United States and abroad; genealogical research and correspondence of several famous Jewish personas; and artifacts, art work and other ephemera.

Provenance

The bulk of the collection was donated in 1993 by Ann (née Solis-Cohen) and Charles L. Rosenthal. The papers of Emily Grace and Emily Elvira Solis-Cohen, Solomon Solis-Cohen, M.D., Elvira Nathan Solis, Isaac Nathan and Jacob da Silva Solis were donations received through prior donations.

Related Material

Rosenbach Collection of Rare American Judaica and the Soble Collection of American Judaica.
Title
Guide to the Papers of the Solis-Cohen Family, undated, 1808-1990 P-642
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Leslie S. Lundberg
Date
© 2002
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from SolisCohenFamily02.xml

Revision Statements

  • October 9, 2002.: Stylesheet AJHSsaxon_ead07.xsl.
  • May 2005.: Converted to ead 2002. Revised as SolisCohenFamily02.xml by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc
  • October 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States