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Baldwin, William (29 March 1779–31 Aug. or 1 Sept. 1819), botanist and physician, was born in Newlin, Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Baldwin, a minister of the Society of Friends, and Elizabeth Garretson. He attended the local schools in Chester County. Baldwin’s interest in botany and medicine may have developed from his association with serious amateur botanists Dr. Moses Marshall and ...

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Benjamin Smith Barton. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02422).

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Barton, Benjamin Smith (10 February 1766–19 December 1815), physician and botanist, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Barton, an Episcopalian minister, and Esther Rittenhouse, the sister of the prominent American astronomer David Rittenhouse. Barton’s parents died before he was fifteen. At the age of eighteen he began medical studies in Philadelphia with ...

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Jacob Bigelow. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02900).

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Bigelow, Jacob (27 February 1787–10 January 1879), physician and botanist, was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Bigelow, a Congregationalist minister, and Elizabeth Wells. He grew up on the family farm, which provided the Bigelows with their primary means of support. During his early years, his father emphasized pragmatic concerns, disapproving of his attempts to learn Latin. He was an observer of nature and enjoyed tinkering on the farm, inventing miniature saw mills and better rat traps. In 1802, at age sixteen, he entered Harvard. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in 1806, he attended the medical lectures of ...

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Joseph Carson. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B04314).

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Carson, Joseph (19 April 1808–30 December 1876), physician and botanist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Carson, a merchant, and Elizabeth Lawrence. After obtaining his A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1826, he went to work in the drugstore of Edward Lowber in Philadelphia where he developed an interest in botany. He studied medicine with Thomas T. Hewson and obtained his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830. After a period as physician to the hospital of the Philadelphia almshouse, he served as ship’s surgeon on the ...

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Clapp, Asahel (05 October 1792–17 December 1862), physician, botanist, and geologist, was born in Hubbardston, Massachusetts, the son of Reuben Clapp and Hepzibah Gates, farmers. When Clapp was a small child, his family moved to Montgomery, Franklin County, Vermont, near the Canadian border. Later, after acquiring sufficient learning for the purpose, he moved to Shelton, Vermont, to teach school. At about eighteen years of age and desiring to learn medicine, he moved to St. Albans, Vermont, and apprenticed himself to Dr. Benjamin Chandler. The completion date of his training and his whereabouts thereafter are unknown until he arrived in New Albany, Indiana, early in 1817....

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William Darlington. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B05853).

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Darlington, William (28 April 1782–23 April 1863), physician, botanist, and author, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward Darlington, a farmer who also found time to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature, and Hannah Townsend. Wanting to escape the drudgery of farm work that had restricted his schooling to a few winter months each year, at age eighteen Darlington persuaded his father to pay the necessary fees for his apprenticeship to study medicine with John Vaughan in Wilmington, Delaware. In return, his father required that he give up his inheritance of a share of the family farm....

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Engelmann, George (02 February 1809–04 February 1884), botanist and physician, was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the son of George Engelmann, an educator with a doctoral degree from the University of Halle, and Julia May, a teacher. After participating in the liberal student uprising at the University of Heidelberg in 1828, he transferred to the University of Berlin, then to Würzburg University, where he received a medical degree in 1831. His doctoral dissertation, ...

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Goodale, George Lincoln (03 August 1839–12 April 1923), physician, botanist, and educator, was born in Saco, Maine, the son of Stephen Lincoln Goodale, a pharmacist and agricultural chemist, and Prudence Aiken Nourse. After serving an apprenticeship in his father’s apothecary shop, he entered Amherst College in 1856; there he received instruction from ...

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Maker: Asher Brown Durand and Thomas Sully

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David Hosack. Engraving by Asher Brown Durand, dated 1834, after a painting by Thomas Sully. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B015183).

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Hosack, David (31 August 1769–22 December 1835), physician and botanist, was born in New York City, the son of Alexander Hosack, a merchant, and Jane Arden. His early education was at private academies in Newark and Hackensack, New Jersey, and he entered Columbia College in 1786 as a liberal arts student. His principal interest, however, was in medicine, and he began as an apprentice under ...

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James, Edwin (27 August 1797–28 October 1861), botanist and physician, was born in Weybridge, Vermont, the son of Daniel James, a farmer, and Mary Emmes. He entered Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, in 1812, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1816. During the next three years he studied medicine in Albany with his physician brothers Daniel and James; the New York State Medical Society granted his official license to practice medicine in 1822. James also attended lectures given by ...

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Perrine, Henry (05 April 1797–07 August 1840), physician and botanist, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Peter Perrine and Sarah Rosengrant. As a young man he briefly taught school in nearby Rocky Hill, then studied medicine. Perrine moved to Ripley, Illinois, in September 1819 to practice medicine on the western frontier. While experimenting in 1821 with quinine and arsenic for treating ague and malaria, he accidentally poisoned himself; his weakened health could not withstand the rigors of the northern climate, and in 1823 he moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where he practiced medicine until 1827. Perrine had married Ann Fuller Townsend in 1822. When he moved to Natchez, he left his wife and their three children with her father in Sodus and, later, Palmyra, New York, returning north for occasional visits....

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Porcher, Francis Peyre (14 December 1825–19 November 1895), physician and botanist, was born in St. John’s District, Berkeley County, South Carolina, the son of William Porcher, a Huguenot planter and trained physician, and Isabella Peyre. Porcher first acquired an interest in intellectual pursuits from his mother, who had a reputation as an “accomplished botanist.” According to family recollections, she gave Porcher “an accurate knowledge of the medicinal properties of the common plants which grew on her plantations” (Wickham, p. 456). After Porcher’s father died in 1833, Isabella assumed responsibility for running the plantation and carried out her husband’s wishes that their six children receive formal schooling. Porcher’s elementary education was provided by a governess, but more advanced studies were undertaken at Mount Zion Academy in Winnsboro, South Carolina. Porcher later went on to South Carolina College, where he obtained an A.B. in 1844, and to the Medical College of the State of South Carolina, where he obtained an M.D. in 1847. He had briefly considered a career in law but abandoned that idea when a position permitting further study did not materialize....

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Shecut, John Linnaeus Edward Whitridge (04 December 1770–01 June 1836), botanist, medical practitioner, and author, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Abraham Shecut and Marie Barbary. His Huguenot forebears had left France and settled in Switzerland, but his parents had come to America about 1768 and settled in Beaufort. They moved to Charleston before Shecut was ten years old. At sixteen he studied medicine under ...

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Short, Charles Wilkins (06 October 1794–07 March 1863), physician, botanist, and medical educator, was born at “Greenfield,” Woodford County, Kentucky, the son of Peyton Short, a Kentucky state senator and gentleman farmer, and Maria Symmes. When he was age six, his mother died, and he was sent to Lexington, Kentucky, to live with paternal relatives, at which time he may have begun his schooling at Joshua Fry’s school in Danville, Kentucky. Short’s father married Jane Henry Churchill, a widow, in November 1802, and Charles and his brother and sister returned home. Short received a bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University in 1810 and then began an apprenticeship in medicine under his uncle, Dr. ...