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Abt, Isaac Arthur (18 December 1867–22 November 1955), pediatrician, was born in Wilmington, Illinois, to Levi Abt, the owner of a general store that doubled as a post office and later, in Chicago, a partner in Hart, Abt, and Marx, a men’s clothing manufacture, and Henrietta Hart. As a child Abt was indelibly affected by the agonizing deaths of other children from contagious diseases and horrible household accidents. Work in an apothecary in high school, where he ground, boiled, and filtered herbs and prepared solutions of various drugs, cemented his interest in medicine. In 1886 Abt began his formal premedical education at Johns Hopkins University. Because Johns Hopkins had no medical school until 1893, Abt left without a degree in 1889 and entered the Chicago Medical College, a department of Northwestern University, where he was a student of Frank Billings, one of Chicago’s leading practitioners of internal medicine. He graduated in 1891 and served a two-year internship at Chicago’s Michael Reese Hospital....

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Agnew, Cornelius Rea (08 August 1830–18 April 1888), ophthalmologist and sanitarian, was born in New York City, the son of William Agnew, a prominent merchant, and Elizabeth Thomson. Agnew entered Columbia College at age fifteen and graduated in 1849. He then studied medicine with J. Kearney Rogers, a surgeon and professor of anatomy at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and in 1852 earned his M.D. After interning at the New York Hospital, where he was also house surgeon, Agnew practiced for about a year in a village that later became Houghton, Michigan. In 1854 he was asked to be a surgeon at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and immediately went to Europe because his appointment was on condition that he first study there. Before returning to New York City in 1855, he studied diseases of the eye, ear, and skin as well as general medicine and surgery with some of the most renowned doctors in Dublin, London, and Paris. Back in New York Agnew took up his surgical duties at the Eye and Ear Infirmary while maintaining a general practice. In 1856 he married Mary Nash; they had eight children....

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Albright, Fuller (12 January 1900–08 December 1969), endocrinologist, was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of John Joseph Albright, an industrialist and philanthropist, and Susan Fuller. Fuller Albright came from a patrician background; he attended Nichols Day School, one of two schools founded by his father. He showed himself to be a well-rounded scholar and athlete, matriculating at Harvard College at age sixteen. He volunteered to join the U.S. Army during World War I and at officer’s training school contracted influenza, a likely forerunner of the postencephalitic Parkinsonism that progressively impaired his functioning in later years. He attended Harvard Medical School and began his residency training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the institution where he remained throughout his career except for two sabbatical years, one spent in Vienna and the other at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He married Claire Birge in 1933; they had two children....

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Alexander, Hattie Elizabeth (05 April 1901–24 June 1968), microbiologist and pediatrician, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Bain Alexander, a merchant, and Elsie May Townsend, both of Scottish ancestry. The family remained in Baltimore throughout Alexander’s relatively happy and comfortable childhood. She attended Baltimore’s Western High School for Girls prior to enrolling in Goucher College, to which she won a partial scholarship. While at Goucher, her enthusiasm for a variety of sports—hockey, baseball, basketball—exceeded that for academics, and she was an unimpressive student. Nevertheless, she exhibited marked, though largely unapplied, skill in Dr. Jessie King’s bacteriology class, and fellow students in the Goucher yearbook declared that “ambition fires her; hygiene claims her; kindness portrays her.”...

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Allen, Edgar (02 May 1892–03 March 1943), endocrinologist and physiologist, was born in Canyon City, Colorado, the son of Asa Allen, a physician and Edith Day. In 1900 the family relocated to Providence, Rhode Island, where Allen grew up. After the death of his father, when Allen was in his early teens, his mother supported the family by working as a librarian and with the help of her children, who held a succession of odd jobs. Allen supported himself through Brown University by waiting on tables, tending furnaces, and teaching swimming among other things. Upon graduating in 1915, he entered the graduate school, from which he received an M.A. in biology with special emphasis on embryology in 1916, after which he continued on for his Ph.D. World War I intervened, however, and he left for France, where he served with a mobile unit of the Sanitary Corps. Allen married Marion Robins Pfeiffer, then a student at Pembroke, the women’s college of Brown, in 1918; the couple had two daughters....

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Andersen, Dorothy Hansine (15 May 1901–03 March 1963), pediatrician and pathologist, was born in Asheville, North Carolina, the only child of Hans Peter Andersen, a secretary for the YMCA, and Mary Louise Mason. Andersen’s father died in 1914, leaving her alone to care for her invalid mother. The two moved to Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, where Louise Andersen died six years later. At the age of nineteen Andersen, with no close relatives, became fully responsible for her own upbringing....

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Apgar, Virginia (07 June 1909–07 August 1974), physician, anesthesiologist, and teratologist, was born in Westfield, New Jersey, the daughter of Charles Emory Apgar, an insurance executive, and Helen May Clarke. She had two brothers, one of whom died of tuberculosis at age three. Apgar’s father conducted amateur experiments in electricity and astronomy, which stimulated her interest in science and medicine. After schooling in Westfield, Apgar attended Mount Holyoke College, obtaining her A.B. degree in 1929. She completed her M.D. at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, in 1933. Then followed two brilliant years in surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, but the department chairman, Alan Whipple, discouraged her from surgical practice. He cited the depression and financial insecurities experienced by his previous female trainees and urged her instead to consider anesthesia, not yet a medical specialty but often done by women nurse practitioners. Apgar spent six months in anesthesia training at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and six months at Bellevue Hospital in New York City before returning to Columbia-Presbyterian in 1938 as director of the Division of Anesthesiology; she was the first woman to head a medical division in that institution....

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Astwood, Edwin Bennett (29 December 1909–17 February 1976), physiologist and endocrinologist, was born in Hamilton, Bermuda, the son of Earnest Millard Astwood, a jeweler, watchmaker, and optometrist, and Imogene Doe. Astwood spent his childhood and received his early education in Bermuda, where his family had a longstanding business interest. Because of his family’s religious ties, Astwood was sent to Washington Missionary College in Ohio. Deciding to study medicine after receiving his college degree in 1929, Astwood attended the Medical College of Evangelists at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California....

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Bailey, Pearce (22 July 1902–23 June 1976), neurologist and federal health science administrator, was born in New York City, the son of Pearce Bailey, a prominent neurologist, and Edith L. Black. Bailey’s choice of a career was doubtless influenced by the fact that his physician father was president of the American Neurological Association in 1913 and was a cofounder of the Neurological Institute at Columbia University in New York City. After graduation from Princeton University with an A.B. in 1924, Bailey pursued postgraduate studies at Columbia University, from which he received an M.A. in psychology in 1931. He then studied at the Université de Paris, where he earned a Ph.D. in psychology in 1933; took an honors course in chemistry at the University of London in 1934; and earned an M.D. at the Medical College of South Carolina at Charleston in 1941....

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Barnes, William Harry (04 April 1887–15 June 1945), physician and otolaryngologist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George W. Barnes, a menial laborer, and Eliza Webb. Young Barnes and his two sisters lived poverty-stricken lives on Lombard Street, a very poor area of the city. He decided at an early age to become a physician, a decision unheard of and regarded as preposterous in his neighborhood. His parents tried to discourage him from pursuing what to them seemed like an absolutely impossible dream for a poor black youth, hoping rather to get him to focus his attention on getting realistic employment. Determined, he walked ten miles every day to and from school and from his after-school work as a porter and messenger for jewelry shops. During summers he worked as a porter in hotels. Seeing people who lived a far different and more elegant lifestyle than his own galvanized him to work himself out of poverty. In 1908 he graduated from Philadelphia’s Central High School with a collegiate bachelor of arts degree and decided to compete for a four-year scholarship to medical school offered by the University of Pennsylvania. He spent the entire summer of 1908 in serious study, took the competitive examination, passed it, and became the first black person to ever win that scholarship. Four years later, in 1912, he received an M.D. and began an internship (1912–1913) at Douglass and Mercy hospitals in Philadelphia. Also in 1912 he married Mattie E. Thomas; they would have five children....

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Barrows, Isabel (17 April 1845–25 October 1913), ophthalmologist, stenographer, and reformer, was born Katharine Isabel Hayes in Irasburg, Vermont, the daughter of Scottish immigrants Henry Hayes, a physician, and Anna Gibb, a schoolteacher. The family moved to Hartland and then Derry, New Hampshire, where Isabel Hayes graduated from Adams Academy. In 1863 she married William Wilberforce Chapin, a Congregational minister. The following year the couple traveled to India for a missionary assignment. Less than a year after arriving in India, William Chapin died of diphtheria. Six months later Isabel Chapin returned to the United States. She moved to Dansville, New York, where she worked as a bath assistant at a water-cure sanatorium....

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Bausch, John Jacob (25 July 1830–14 February 1926), and Henry Lomb (24 November 1828–13 June 1908), a cabinetmaker turned optician, were business partners who founded Bausch and Lomb, an optical goods company, in Rochester, New York, in 1853. Bausch was one of seven children born in Gross Suessen, Württemberg, then a German monarchy, to George Bausch, a baker, and his wife, Annie Schmidt. His mother died when he was six. As a youth he was apprenticed to a maker of eyeglasses, and he worked for a time as a lens grinder in Bern, Switzerland. In 1850, seeking greater opportunity, he emigrated to the United States. The harrowing journey by sailing ship reportedly took forty‐nine days. After landing in New York City, he made his way to Buffalo, a city in upstate New York with a large German population. He arrived in the midst of a cholera epidemic, was unable to find work, and moved on to the closest city, Rochester, some seventy miles to the northeast....

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Harry Benjamin. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02717).

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Benjamin, Harry (12 January 1885–24 August 1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Julius Benjamin, a banker, and Bertha Hoffman. He became interested in human sexuality at the age of twenty, when he read August Forel’s ...

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Burnett, Charles Henry (28 May 1842–30 January 1902), otologist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Eli Seal Burnett and Hannah Kennedy Mustin. He received his early education in Philadelphia, and in 1860 he entered Yale College, graduating with an A.B. in 1864. While at Yale Burnett was an active participant in undergraduate social and academic organizations....

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Caldwell, Eugene Wilson (03 December 1870–20 June 1918), radiologist, was born in Savannah, Missouri, the son of William W. Caldwell, a prominent lawyer, and Camilla Kellogg. After Caldwell graduated from high school, the family moved to Concordia, Kansas, and at seventeen he enrolled at the University of Kansas in Lawrence to study electrical engineering. Beginning in his sophomore year, Caldwell worked as an assistant to physicist Lucien I. Blake, who requested Caldwell’s assistance for extended experiments in submarine telephony off the coast of Taunton, Massachusetts, during the summers....

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Chinn, May Edward (15 April 1896–01 December 1980), physician and cancer researcher, was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Lafayette Chinn, a former slave who had escaped to the North from a Virginia plantation and had unsteady employment as a result of race discrimination, and Lulu Ann Evans, a domestic worker. Occasionally William Chinn worked at odd jobs and as a porter. Raised in New York City, May Chinn was educated in the city’s public schools and at the Bordentown Manual Training and Industrial School (N.J.), and she attended Morris High School in New York. A severe bout with osteomyelitis of the jaw plagued her as a child and required extensive medical treatment. Her family’s poverty forced her to drop out of high school in the eleventh grade for a factory job. A year later she scored high enough on the entrance examination for Teachers’ College at Columbia University to be admitted to the class of 1921 without a high school diploma....

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Chisolm, Julian John (16 April 1830–01 November 1903), physician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Robert Trail Chisolm, a planter, and Harriet Emily Schutt. He was also known as John Julian Chisolm.

Prior to his formal training in medicine, Chisolm spent three years in the office of Elias Horlbeck, a prominent practitioner in Charleston. Following the award of his M.D. in 1850 from the Medical College of the State of South Carolina, Chisolm continued his studies in Paris, with emphasis on eye surgery. He returned to Europe in 1859 to visit hospitals in London and Paris. With the outbreak of war between Italy and Austria, he traveled to Milan to observe the treatment of the wounded from the battles at Magenta and Solferino....

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Cobb, Stanley (10 December 1887–25 February 1968), physician, neurologist, and psychiatrist, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of John Candler Cobb, a developer of Boston’s South Bay, and Leonore Smith of New York. A solitary child, handicapped by stammering, Cobb was tutored at home during his early years. He enjoyed observing birds and animals and developed a lifelong interest in natural history. His interest during his teenage years in pursuing a medical career received impetus from the comment of a distinguished surgeon, who on observing Cobb’s deftness in skinning a shrew, remarked, “With that ability you should go into medicine!” (White, p. 13)....

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Coit, Henry Leber (16 March 1854–12 March 1917), pediatrician, was born in Peapack, New Jersey, the son of John Summerfield Coit, a Methodist minister, and Ellen Neafie. He received his early education in Newark public schools. In 1876 he graduated class valedictorian from the College of Pharmacy in New York and then went to work as a chemist for Tarrant & Company in New York City. He worked as a chemist and taught at the College of Pharmacy while he attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, from which he graduated with a degree in medicine in 1883....