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Margaret Arnstein. Right, with Secretary of HEW Oveta Culp Hobby. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (A018286).

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Arnstein, Margaret (27 October 1904–08 October 1972), public health nurse and educator, was born Margaret Gene Arnstein in New York City, the daughter of Leo Arnstein, a successful businessman, and Elsie Nathan, a volunteer social worker. She was exposed to public health nursing at an early age by her parents, both second-generation Jewish Americans of German heritage, who were involved with ...

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S. Josephine Baker. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02220).

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Baker, Sara Josephine (15 November 1873–22 February 1945), physician and public health administrator, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the daughter of Orlando Daniel Mosher Baker, an eminent lawyer, and Jenny Harwood Brown, one of the first Vassar College graduates. In her autobiography Baker described her father, who came from Quaker stock, as a sober, quiet man who “never uttered an unnecessary word,” while her mother, “gay, social and ambitious,” traced her ancestry back to Samuel Danforth, one of the founders of Harvard College. A happy child, Baker drew inspiration from both parents. Wishing to make it up to her father for not being born a boy, she became an enthusiastic baseball player and trout-fisher and read ...

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Mary F. Beard. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103743).

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Beard, Mary (14 November 1876–04 December 1946), public health administrator, was born in Dover, New Hampshire, the daughter of Ithamar Warren Beard, an Episcopalian minister, and Marcy Foster. At the age of twelve she contracted diphtheria and was confined to her home for an extended convalescence, during which she was cared for by a kind visiting nurse. Deeply moved by the experience, she determined to devote her own life to nursing. She eventually dropped out of high school and then worked for several years as a private tutor in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1899 she enrolled in the New York Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated in 1903 and the next year began caring for sick people in their homes as a staff nurse for the year-old Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Waterbury, Connecticut....

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Bennett, Alice (31 January 1851–31 May 1925), physician and hospital administrator, was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, the daughter of Isaac Francis Bennett, a blacksmith, and Lydia Hayden. She taught in the district schools of her hometown for four years to earn tuition for medical school, receiving her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1876. Following graduation, Bennett worked at a dispensary in a Philadelphia working-class neighborhood, taught anatomy at her alma mater, and maintained a private medical practice while continuing her study of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1880 she became the first woman to receive a doctor of philosophy degree from that university....

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Biggs, Hermann Michael (29 September 1859–28 June 1923), pathologist, bacteriologist, physician, and public health official, was born in Trumansburg, New York, the son of Joseph Hunt Biggs and Melissa Pratt. Dr. Biggs married Frances M. Richardson, of Hornellsville, New York, in 1898; they had two children. Biggs received his primary education in Ithaca, New York, and matriculated into Cornell University, where he received the bachelor of arts degree in 1882. From Cornell Biggs went on to medical school at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, where he received his M.D. the following year. He spent the next eighteen months (1882–1883) in the postgraduate course at Bellevue, where he served as a rotating intern and resident physician. Upon completion of this course, Biggs traveled to Europe and spent the next two years (1883–1885) studying bacteriology in Berlin and Griefswald. When he returned to New York City in 1886, Biggs was made director of the newly opened Carnegie Bacteriology Laboratory of the Bellevue Hospital. His rise in academic rank was meteoric; appointed a lecturer in pathology in 1886, Biggs was made a full professor of pathology in 1889, professor of materia medica (pharmacology) in 1892, professor of therapeutics in 1898, and professor of medicine in 1912....

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Henry Boswell. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03302).

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Boswell, Henry (26 March 1884–16 December 1957), physician and tuberculosis sanatorium administrator, was born in Hinton, Alabama, the son of John Boswell and Georgianna Neal. Nothing is known of his parents’ occupations. Boswell grew up in Choctaw County, in west central Alabama, attending grade school in Hinton and public high school in nearby Rock Springs. He moved north to Tennessee to seek a medical education at the University of Nashville, from which he received an M.D. in 1908. After graduation, he held a brief internship at the Nashville General Hospital before accepting a position as house surgeon at Providence Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, where he worked until late 1909....

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Brigham, Amariah (26 December 1798–08 September 1849), physician and asylum superintendent, was born in New Marlboro, Massachusetts, the son of John Brigham and Phoebe Clark, farmers. Orphaned at the age of eleven, Brigham spent ten months with his uncle, a doctor in upstate New York, before his uncle, too, died. Undaunted, Brigham found work as a clerk in a bookstore and later as a teacher in the local schools of Albany. He prepared himself for the medical profession by studying with doctors in his hometown and in Canaan, Connecticut, and by attending one term of lectures in New York City....

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Bryce, Peter (05 March 1834–14 August 1892), psychiatrist and mental hospital superintendent, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, the son of Peter Bryce and Martha Smith. His father died before Bryce had finished preparatory school. In 1852 Bryce enrolled at the Citadel in South Carolina, from which he graduated with distinction in 1855. In 1857 he entered the medical school of the University of New York (now New York University), from which he graduated in 1859. As was common in medical schools of that era, there were no courses that prepared him for a career in mental health care. In the summer following his graduation, however, he traveled to Europe, where he toured psychiatric hospitals. After his return to the United States, he served briefly at a psychiatric hospital in Trenton, New Jersey; shortly thereafter he returned to Columbia, where he took a position as assistant physician at the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum....

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Caverly, Charles Solomon (30 September 1856–16 October 1918), physician and public health officer, was born in Troy, New Hampshire, the son of Abiel Caverly, a physician, and Sarah Goddard. Caverly attended public school in Concord, New Hampshire, and in Brandon, Vermont, and then prepared for college at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1878 and studied medicine in his father’s office until his father’s death in 1879. He continued his studies with Dr. Middleton Goldsmith of Rutland, Vermont, and then attended the University of Vermont, from which he received an M.D. in 1881. He married Mabel Tuttle in 1885; they had one son. After some postgraduate study at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, Caverly in 1883 went into practice with his old friend Goldsmith in Rutland. He remained a busy and respected physician there until his death in Rutland during the influenza epidemic of 1918....

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Chapin, Charles Value (17 January 1856–31 January 1941), public health officer and epidemiologist, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Joshua Bicknell Chapin, who was successively a physician, pharmacist, photographer, and Rhode Island Commissioner of Public Schools, and Jane Catherine Louise Value, a portrait painter. After graduating with a B.A. from Brown University in 1876, Chapin remained in Providence for another year reading medicine under preceptors. He then continued his medical training with a year at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, followed by a year at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, where he studied pathology under ...

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John Cochran. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B04816).

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Cochran, John (01 September 1730–16 April 1807), physician and hospital director, was born in the area of Sadsbury (now Cochranville), Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Ulster emigrants James Cochran and Isabella Cochran. Cochran grew up in the rough community surrounding his father’s tavern, which was the center of all local activities. At age thirteen he attended the school in nearby New London opened recently by the Reverend ...

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Crandall, Ella Phillips (16 September 1871–24 October 1938), public health nurse and educator, was born in Wellsville, New York, the daughter of Herbert A. Crandall, a manufacturer, and Alice Phillips, a seamstress. She grew up in Dayton, Ohio, to which her father moved in 1872 to work with the railroad. The Crandalls were Presbyterians, and Crandall’s father served on Dayton’s school and health boards....

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Pliny Earle. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109935).

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Earle, Pliny (31 December 1809–17 May 1892), psychiatrist and asylum superintendent, was born in Leicester, Massachusetts, the son of Pliny Earle, a manufacturer and farmer, and Patience Buffum. Raised in a lenient but devout Quaker household, Earle first attended the Leicester Academy and then a Quaker boarding school in Providence, Rhode Island. Between 1829 and 1835 he taught at the latter and served briefly as its principal. In 1835 he entered the University of Pennsylvania as a medical student and received an M.D. in 1837. His thesis dealt with the treatment of insanity, a subject with which he had become familiar through visits with ...

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Felix, Robert Hanna (29 May 1904–31 March 1990), psychiatrist and public health official, was born in Downs, Kansas, the son of Tasso Oliver Felix, a physician, and Neva Lee Trusdle. He matriculated at the University of Colorado in 1923 and received his A.B. and M.D. in 1926 and 1930, respectively. After completing his internship at Colorado General Hospital in 1931, he received a Commonwealth Fund fellowship in psychiatry and spent the next two years in residency at the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital in Denver....