In 1895 Dr. Anna L. Allaben, a widow with a young son, arrived in Morristown to establish her own medical practice. Born Anna Lina McNitt on September 22, 1858 to Nelson and Margaret (Elliott) McNitt in Chenango County, New York, Anna was the second child of five. When Anna was about 10, the family moved to Morris in neighboring Otsego County, west of Albany. The family continued farming and Anna received her early education in a village, where according to an 1895 essay, “...educational interests have been very progressive.” (http://theusgenweb.org/ny/otsego/histsketchs/bvhist.htm )
In 1883, Anna married James R. Allaben, Jr. (b.1860-d.1889) and promptly moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., her husband’s hometown. Unfortunately, after a long illness her husband died at the age of 29, leaving Anna with the responsibility of their 3 year old son. It was at this time in her life that Dr. Allaben began her medical studies.
Dr. Anna L. Allaben attended New York Medical College and Hospital for Women, the first college established specifically for the medical education of women. The institution was founded in 1863 by Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier, M.D. at a time when women were not granted hospital privileges even if they managed to obtain a degree. (http://www.homeoint.org/cazalet/histo/newyork.htm)
Allaben graduated in 1894 earning a Doctor of Medicine degree, after which she worked under Dr. Hellmuth, Dean and Chief Surgeon of the Flower Free Surgical Hospital in NYC. Shortly thereafter, in 1895, Dr. Allaben moved to Morristown to specialize in women and children’s illnesses. As early as 1897, the Morristown City Directory’s list of physicians included a listing for Dr. Anna L. Allaben when her office was located at 43 South Street ; visiting hours were 9-11a.m.; 1-3 p.m.; and 6-8 p.m. Then in 1907 a report presented to the Morristown Medical Club by Morristown’s esteemed Dr. Frederich Wooster Owen spoke of Dr. Anna Allaben as having ”…fine clienteles”. (Medical Morristown 1870-1907 read before “Morristown Medical Club” at the Home of Dr. Stephen Pierson.)
She joined the staff of All Souls’ Hospital maternity department and was an associate of Memorial Hospital. A 1919 Jerseyman newspaper article recounted how, “During the recent (1918) influenza epidemic it was not at all unusual for her [Dr. Allaben] to work eighteen hours at a time. (Jerseyman, April 11, 1919)
In addition to her practice, Dr. Allaben served on town boards, business and social organizations. As a member of the Board of Education she was the School Physician at Morristown High School. Dr. Anna Allaben also served as President of the Morristown Board of Health in the 1920s and 1930s. It was during her tenure on the Board of Education that she advocated for the acceptance of diphtheria testing by the Board and parents. During Child Welfare Week of May 1922 Dr. Allaben served on the Advisory Committee. (Morristown Topics, April 22, 1921; page 10.) She was a member of The New Jersey Homeopathic Society, Morristown’s Business and Professional Women’s Club and The Current News Club.
At a time when women physicians weren’t always accepted favorably, Dr. Anna L. Allaben established herself as one of Morristown’s first women physicians. She remained a presence in the community for nearly fifty years. Dr. Anna Lina (McNitt) Allaben died on January 2, 1945 in All Souls’ Hospital at the age of 82. She was survived by a son, Nelson James and a granddaughter Hope Virginia. Funeral services were held at the First Baptist Church of Morristown.