Jerome Cochrane


Public Health Officer, Doctor of Medicine

Alabama's first State Health Officer. He formulated the plan adopted by the legislature in 1875 to reorganize the Medical Association and to establish it as the State Board of Health and the county medical societies as county boards of health.

Jerome Cochrane believed that responsibility for the public health rested in the medical profession. Proceeding from this belief he secured the adoption of legislation to enable the profession to meet that responsibility through state and county medical societies.

Born and educated in Tennessee, he served as a Confederate surgeon before setting up his practice in Mobile, Alabama, in 1865. Dr. Cochrane recognized that if the medical profession were to assume direct responsibility for safeguarding the public health it would be necessary to reorganize it in such a manner as to permit it to function effectively as a board of health. To accomplish that end he drafted a new constitution for the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, which was adopted in 1873. Having laid this foundation he opposed and secured the defeat of a bill to create a State Board of Health subject to political pressures, and drafted legislation designed to constitute the state medical association as the State Board. The bill suggested by him also proposed that county societies be given similar standing within their jurisdictions and that control of funds appropriated to Boards of Health and appointment of health officers be reserved to the respective societies. The law embodying his recommendations was enacted in 1875. The Alabama State Board of Health was created under the new law and Dr. Cochrane became the first State Health Officer in 1879. He served in this position until his death in 1896.

Elected 1961

Alabama Hall of Fame, 1968

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Created: 1/18/96