Abraham Flexner

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Louisville, Kentucky
Birth Sign
Louisville, Kentucky

Abraham Flexner is one of the few people in contemporary history who has changed education and medical science. Flexner has thought that strong education is the key to a better society since he was a child. At the age of nineteen, Flexner recognized the inadequacies in the American educational system and founded a school. He believed that any educational institution would be perfect if each class had fewer students and each received more personalized attention. He started by implementing these concepts in his own institution, which was a different approach than other institutions at the time. Through his publications, he even spoke out against universities’ disorganized operations. All of his literary works have been regarded as major eye-openers by American culture, whether they are discussing education or medical science. Flexner was also a guardian angel who came to the help of several European scientists who were persecuted by the Nazis. These researchers were offered the chance to study with Flexner at the ‘Institute for Advanced Study,’ which he co-founded. Flexner’s life and ideas have served as a source of inspiration for a number of modern superstars.

Childhood and Adolescence

Abraham Flexner was born in Kentucky on November 13, 1866, to German-Jewish parents Moritz and Ester. Flexner was the sixth kid born to his parents out of a family of nine children.

Abraham finished his elementary studies at ‘John Hopkins University when he was 19 years old. He subsequently returned home to open a private school in his village. Flexner wanted to provide his students a better education by giving each student more individual attention through this project.

Flexner continued his graduate studies at the prestigious ‘Harvard University and the ‘University of Berlin many years later. He did not, however, complete his studies at either of these institutions.

Abraham Flenem’s Career

Flexner’s first book was titled “The American College.” Many people admired this work, including Henry Pritchett, the President of the ‘Carnegie Foundation’ at the time. As a result of Pritchett’s advice, Flexner joined the Carnegie Foundation’s research wing.

Flexner began working for the ‘Rockefeller Foundation’ as a member of the General Education Board in 1912. He was promoted to Secretary of the Board of Directors five years later.

In 1917, the same year he was appointed secretary of the General Education Board, Flexner founded the ‘Lincoln School.’ Flexner partnered on this new endeavor with Columbia University’s Teachers College in order to provide high-quality education.

Flexner was appointed director of studies of the General Education Board in the first half of the 1920s, and he was responsible for numerous innovations in medical education.
After a 13-year career on the Rockefeller Foundation’s General Education Board, he stepped down in 1925.

Abraham Flexner teamed up with Louis Bamberger of New Jersey in 1930. The ‘Institute of Advanced Study’ was formed by the two of them together. Flexner, the institute’s director for nine years, was successful in attracting scientists from all around Europe. He even managed to attract Albert Einstein’s attention by sending him an invitation to visit the institute.

In the same year, Flexner published a new work named ‘Universities: American, English, and German.’ Flexner’s work called into question the entire purpose of American institutions. He railed against athletics and other extracurricular activities, claiming that they diverted pupils’ attention away from their studies.

Flexner’s Major Projects

Flexner is primarily recognized for his controversial writings. Many readers were drawn to his debut book, ‘The American College,’ which criticized the American educational system and the chaotic curriculum followed by courses at various universities. This book brought Abraham Flexner a lot of attention.

Flexner’s second publication, the ‘Flexner Report,’ was released in 1910. The book went on to become a modern-day medical education bible. Following the publication of the book, several rural medical schools were closed.

Achievements and Awards

In 1978, the ‘Louisville Board of Alderman,’ a legislative body of the government, named a street in his honor. ‘Abraham Flexner Way’ was named after him.

Personal History and Legacy

Anne Crawford, an American playwright, and author of several children’s books married Abraham Flexner. Eleanor, the couple’s daughter, was a pioneer in the field of women’s studies.

At the age of 93, Flexner died in New York on September 21, 1959. He was cremated and buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery.

In addition to Flexner, his brother Simon and nephew made substantial contributions to medical education. While Simon was a professor of experimental pathology at the University of Pennsylvania, his nephew Louis Barkhouse Flexner served as the founding director of the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences.

Estimated Net worth



In a 2012 interview, Warren Buffet, the world’s richest man, lavished admiration on Abraham Flexner. Buffet was reportedly heavily affected by one of Flexner’s books when he was a teenager.