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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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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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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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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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Frost, Wade Hampton (03 March 1880–30 April 1938), epidemiologist and physician, was born in Marshall, Virginia, the son of Henry Frost, a physician and Sabra J. Walker. Frost was brought up in the rural setting of Marshall, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. His days as a boy were generally spent doing chores, accompanying his father on rounds to see patients throughout the countryside, and studying. Frost was schooled at home by his mother until the age of fifteen, when he was sent for a year to a military school in nearby Danville. He completed his college preparatory education at the Randolph Macon Academy, graduating in 1897. After working in a local store for a year, Frost entered the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He received his undergraduate degree three years later in the spring of 1901. That fall he enrolled in the University of Virginia’s Medical School, and he earned the degree of Doctor of Medicine in June 1903....

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John Minson Galt. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B08494).

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Galt, John Minson, II (19 March 1819–18 May 1862), physician, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, the son of Alexander D. Galt, a and Mary Dorothea Galt (his parents were third cousins). He was the namesake of, and later successor to, his paternal grandfather, John Minson Galt I, who in 1793 was appointed attending physician to the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds, in Williamsburg. This institution, renamed the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in 1841 (later the Eastern State Hospital), was the first public hospital in the United States founded exclusively for the care of the mentally ill....

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John P. Gray. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B013530).

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Gray, John Purdue (06 August 1825–29 November 1886), physician, alienist, and asylum superintendent, was born in Half Moon, Pennsylvania, the son of Peter D. Gray, a Methodist minister and farmer, and Elizabeth Purdue. He received his early education at Bellefonte Academy and Dickinson College, from which he graduated with an A.M. in 1846. He studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1849 and immediately becoming resident physician at Blockley Hospital in Philadelphia....

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Guiteras, Juan (04 January 1852–28 October 1925), physician and public health official, was born in Matanzas, Cuba, the son of Eusebio Guiteras, an educator and author, and Josefa Gener. In 1867 he received an A.B. from Colegio La Empresa in Matanzas and began studying medicine at the University of Havana. Two years later he enrolled in the medical and graduate schools of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received an M.D. and a Ph.D. in 1873. After completing his internship at Philadelphia Hospital, he was there appointed resident physician in 1874 and visiting physician in 1876. Three years later he became a clinical lecturer at the hospital, an instructor in symptomatology at Pennsylvania, and a member of a U.S. National Board of Health commission investigating the causes of yellow fever in Havana....

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Heiser, Victor George (05 February 1873–27 February 1972), medical doctor and public health administrator, was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the son of George Heiser and Mathilde Lorenz. On 31 May 1889 both parents perished in the Johnstown flood, but Heiser, clinging to the roof of a barn, was swept to safety. Able to retrieve nothing more than his father’s Civil War uniform and his mother’s Bible, he left school to earn his living first as a plumber’s assistant and then as a carpenter. At the age of eighteen Heiser, lonely and unhappy, entered engineering school in Chicago. Within a year, however, he decided that he wanted to be a doctor, and so, with characteristic dedication, he moved to New York and set about acquiring enough course credits to be awarded an A.B. degree from the University of the State of New York (1894). This permitted him to enroll in Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, where he completed the four-year course in three years, receiving his M.D. in 1897....

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Ezra Mundy Hunt. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B029557).

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Hunt, Ezra Mundy (04 January 1830–01 July 1894), physician, sanitarian, and public health official, was born in Metuchen, New Jersey, the son of Holloway Whitfield Hunt, a Presbyterian minister, and Henrietta Mundy. He graduated from Princeton University in 1849 and enrolled in New York’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (Columbia University). While in medical school he was apprenticed to Abraham Coles of Newark, New Jersey, to gain practical experience. Hunt graduated from medical school with an M.D. in 1852. In 1853 he married Emma Louisa Ayres of Rahway, New Jersey; they had five children, two of whom died at an early age. Three years after his wife’s death in 1867 he married Emma Reeves of Alloway, New Jersey; the couple had one child....

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Knowles, John Hilton (23 May 1926–06 March 1979), physician, cardiopulmonary physiologist, and hospital and foundation administrator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of James Knowles, a former World War I flying ace and vice president of Rexall Drug Company, and Jean Laurence Turnbull, an artist. Knowles spent his early childhood years in Normandy, Missouri; when he was twelve, he and his family moved to Belmont, Massachusetts. After graduating from Belmont High School in 1944, Knowles enrolled at Harvard, majoring in biochemistry. Sports and jazz music were his chief interests in college. With classmate ...