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Walter C. Alvarez. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B029601).

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Alvarez, Walter Clement (22 July 1884–16 June 1978), physician, medical researcher, and medical columnist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Luis Fernandez Alvarez, a physician, and Clementina Schuetze. When Alvarez was three, his family moved to Hawaii, where his father was a government physician in two isolated Oahu villages. Alvarez was eleven when his father established a Honolulu hospital for lepers and attempted to develop a serum to combat the disease. While assisting his father, Alvarez resolved to become a physician....

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Ames, Nathaniel (22 July 1708–11 July 1764), almanac maker, physician, and innkeeper, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Nathaniel Ames, an astronomer and mathematician, and Susannah Howard. Probably after an apprenticeship with a country doctor, Ames became a doctor. With the likely assistance of his father, in 1725 Ames produced the first almanac to carry his name, though he was a youth of only seventeen. The almanac soon became well known and remained a staple product in New England, appearing annually for a half century....

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Ames, Nathaniel (09 October 1741–20 July 1822), almanac writer, physician, and political activist, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Ames and Deborah Fisher Ames. The senior Nathaniel strongly influenced his son with his deep interest in the “new science” of Isaac Newton and his activities as a physician, tavern proprietor, and compiler of a notable almanac. At sixteen Nathaniel, Jr., entered Harvard College and in January 1758 began to keep a diary. His lively, absorptive mind responded to new ideas, particularly Professor ...

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Anderson, Garland (1886–31 May 1939), playwright and minister, was born in Wichita, Kansas. Little is known about his parents, although his mother is said to have been an active reformer and a poet. Garland completed four years of school (the only formal education he ever received) before his father moved his family to California to take a job as a janitor in the post office. The following year Garland’s mother died, and at age twelve he left home to become a newsboy, selling the ...

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Atkinson, William Biddle (21 June 1832–23 November 1909), obstetrician and medical biographer, was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac Sleeper Atkinson and Mary Reese Biddle. Atkinson began his medical studies in 1850 under the preceptorship of Samuel McClellan, who was probably influential in Atkinson’s choice of a medical specialty and certainly influential in his later appointment to the Pennsylvania Medical College. Atkinson completed his medical training in 1853 after three courses of lectures at the Jefferson Medical College. For several years after graduation he devoted part of his time to teaching classics and mathematics in Philadelphia and part to his medical practice. It was during this period that Atkinson began a lifelong involvement as the correspondent or editor of various medical periodicals....

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Ballard, Martha Moore (20 February 1735–19 May 1812), midwife and diarist, was born in Oxford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Elijah Moore and Dorothy Learned, farmers and innkeepers. Nothing is known about her early life and education. Though the Learned and Moore families were moderately prosperous, Martha’s mother signed the only document bearing her name with a mark. Martha’s father and grandfathers were town selectmen and militia officers. Her younger brother, Jonathan Moore, was Oxford’s second college graduate and for a time served as librarian of Harvard College. Her uncle Abijah Moore, a graduate of Yale College, and her brother-in-law, Stephen Barton, were physicians. Presumably Martha learned her craft through working with an older midwife in Oxford....

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Bancroft, Edward (09 January 1744–08 September 1821), physician, scientist, and spy, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Bancroft and Mary Ely, farmers. The elder Bancroft died in 1746 of an epileptic attack suffered in a pigpen, two months before the birth of his younger son, Daniel. His widow married David Bull of Westfield in 1751, and the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Bull operated the Bunch of Grapes tavern. Edward Bancroft was taught for a time by the recent Yale graduate ...

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Barber, Jesse Max (05 July 1878–23 September 1949), African-American journalist, dentist, and civil rights activist, was born in Blackstock, South Carolina, the son of Jesse Max Barber and Susan Crawford, former slaves. Barber studied in public schools for African-American students and at Friendship Institute in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1901 he completed the normal school course for teachers at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and afterward entered Virginia Union University in Richmond. There Barber was president of the literary society and edited the ...

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Clara Barrus. At Woodchuck Lodge. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103953).

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Barrus, Clara (08 August 1864–04 April 1931), physician and author, was born in Port Byron, New York, the daughter of John William Barrus, a traveling salesman, and Sarah Randall, a schoolteacher. She began her education at the Port Byron Academy, where three years before her graduation she decided to become a physician. She felt women physicians were scarce and were needed to “treat modest girls who refused treatment from a man” ( ...

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Bennet, Sanford Fillmore (21 June 1836–11 June 1898), physician and writer of popular verses and hymn texts, was born in Eden, New York, the son of Robert Bennet and Sally Kent. After spending his early years in New York, Bennet moved with his family to Lake County, Illinois. By the age of eighteen Bennet was teaching school in Wauconda, Illinois. In 1858 he entered the University of Michigan but did not complete a degree there, deciding instead to accept a position as the head of the Richmond, Illinois school district. After his marriage to Gertrude Crosby Johonnatt, Bennet moved to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he became co-owner and editor of the ...

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Joyce Brothers. Dr. Joyce Brothers, half-length portrait, facing slightly left, holding a book she wrote, 1957. Photographic print by Phyllis Twacht. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117953).

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Brothers, Joyce (20 October 1927–13 May 2013), psychologist, television and radio personality, and columnist, was born Joyce Diane Bauer in Brooklyn, New York, to Morris K. Bauer and Estelle Rappaport Bauer, a Jewish couple who shared a law practice. She and sister, Elaine, were raised in Queens, where Joyce was an honors student at Far Rockaway High School....

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Browne, Benjamin Frederick (17 July 1793–23 November 1873), druggist and author, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Benjamin Browne and Elizabeth Andrew, occupations unknown. Browne attended classes beginning in 1797 in a school run by Madame Babbidge. He served as apprentice to apothecary E. S. Lang for five years (1807–1812), immediately after which the outbreak of the War of 1812 destroyed all commerce moving through the port of Salem....

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Archibald Bruce. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03753).

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Bruce, Archibald ( February 1777–22 February 1818), physician, mineralogist, and editor, was born in New York City, the son of William Bruce, a British army medical officer, and Judith Bayard Van Rensselaer. Despite his father’s expressed wish, Bruce pursued medical education and practice. After taking an A.B. at Columbia College in 1797, he continued his studies in New York and then moved on to Edinburgh (M.D., 1800). As was common in this period, his medical education included exposure to the natural sciences, and Bruce developed a lifelong interest in mineralogy. After completing his M.D., he extended his European stay with travels on the Continent to study mineralogy and collect materials for his own mineralogical cabinet....

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Richard Maurice Bucke. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98116).

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Bucke, Richard Maurice (18 March 1837–19 February 1902), psychiatrist and biographer, was born in Methwold, County of Norfolk, England, the son of Reverend Horatio Walpole Bucke, a Church of England curate and a direct descendant of Sir Robert Walpole, the renowned prime minister of England. (His mother’s name has been recorded as Clarissa Andrews, but that cannot be confirmed.) Within a year of his birth, Bucke’s parents emigrated to Upper Canada, settling on a farm near London, Ontario. His father, a classical scholar and linguist, brought to Canada a library of five or six thousand books in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Bucke and his six siblings received their schooling at home....

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Casal, Lourdes (5 Apr. 1938–1 Feb. 1981), poet, literary critic, social psychologist, and political activist, was born Lourdes Emilia Irene de la Caridad Casal y Valdés in Havana, Cuba, the daughter of two professional parents, Pedro Casal, a doctor in medicine and a dentist, and Emilia Valdés, an elementary school teacher. Of mixed heritage, Casal’s family included black, white, and Chinese ancestry....