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Abbott, Anderson Ruffin (07 April 1837–29 December 1913), surgeon, was born in Toronto, Upper Canada (now Ontario), the son of Wilson Ruffin Abbott, a businessman and properties investor, and Mary Ellen Toyer. The Abbotts had arrived in Toronto about 1835, coming from Mobile, Alabama, via New Orleans and New York; Wilson Abbott became one of the wealthiest African Canadians in Toronto. Anderson received his primary education in Canadian public and private schools. Wilson Abbott moved his family to the Elgin Settlement in 1850, providing his children with a classical education at the famed Buxton Mission School. Anderson Abbott, a member of the school’s first graduating class, continued his studies at the Toronto Academy as one of three African Americans there. He then attended the Preparatory Department at Oberlin College from 1856 through 1858, afterward returning to Toronto to start his medical training....

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Abel, John Jacob (19 May 1857–26 May 1938), pharmacologist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of George Abel and Mary Becker, farmers. His mother died of puerperal fever while giving birth to her eighth child when Abel was fifteen. After graduating as the top student in the Cleveland high school system, Abel enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1876. His education was interrupted at the end of his third year for financial reasons, and he spent the next three years as a teacher, principal, and then superintendent of schools in La Porte, Indiana. He met his future wife, Mary Hinman, in La Porte, where she was a high school teacher....

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Abrams, Albert (08 December 1863–13 January 1924), physician and exponent of new theories of disease requiring treatment by unorthodox devices, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Marcus Abrams and Rachel Leavey. He received M.D. degrees from Heidelberg University at nineteen (1882) and the next year from Cooper Medical College (later Stanford), then pursued postgraduate study in London, Berlin, Vienna, and Paris. Later he frequently returned to Europe for periods of study and earned a Master of Arts degree from Portland University in Oregon (1892). Abrams began his practice in San Francisco, gaining esteem among his peers with his numerous publications, especially a ...

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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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Adams, Numa Pompilius Garfield (26 February 1885–29 August 1940), physician and medical educator, was born in Delaplane, Virginia. Little is known about Adams’s family and early life. He attended a country school run by his uncle Robert Adams. Adams received additional instruction and inspiration from his grandmother Amanda, a midwife who shared with him the secrets of herbal medicine. When Adams was thirteen, his family moved to Steelton, Pennsylvania. Soon Adams taught himself how to read music and purchased a used cornet, which he taught himself to play, a skill that later helped him pay for his education....

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Adler, Alfred (06 February 1870–28 May 1937), physician and psychological theorist, was born in Rudolfsheim, near Vienna, Austria, the son of Leopold Adler, a grain merchant, and Pauline Beer. Adler was born into a lower middle-class, religiously nonobservant, and ethnically assimilated Jewish family in Austria. The death of a close younger brother in early childhood and Adler’s own near-death from illness the following year, at the age of five, seem to have inspired his interest in a medical career. A mediocre student, he attended several Viennese private schools and then began study at the University of Vienna in the fall of 1888....

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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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Agnew, D. Hayes (24 November 1818–22 March 1892), surgeon and medical educator, was born David Hayes Agnew in Nobleville (Christiana), Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Agnew, a physician, and Agnes Noble. In 1833 Agnew, who grew up in a deeply religious Presbyterian household, entered Jefferson College at Cannonsburg, a stronghold of Presbyterianism in western Pennsylvania. In 1834 Agnew left Jefferson to attend Newark College, established in that year by the Delaware legislature, where his cousin, the Reverend John Holmes Agnew, was professor of languages. With other students at Newark he founded the Athenaeum Literary Society, but when his cousin left in 1835, objecting to a lottery that supported the college, Agnew left with him. After studying medicine at home under his father, Agnew entered the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1836—one of the youngest members of the class. Agnew received his M.D. in 1838. The title of his graduating thesis was “Medical Science and the Responsibility of Medical Character.”...

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D. Hayes Agnew. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B011345).

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Ainsworth, Fred Crayton (11 September 1852–05 June 1934), military surgeon and adjutant general, was born in Woodstock, Vermont, the son of Crayton Ainsworth, a modestly prosperous businessman and machinist, and Harriet Carroll, a seamstress and Woman’s Christian Temperance Union activist.

During 1869 and 1870 Ainsworth attended but did not graduate from Dartmouth College. Upon returning to Woodstock, he studied medicine for three years, then enrolled in the medical school of the City University of New York. He graduated with honors in 1874, served a brief residency on the Bellevue Hospital medical staff, and then won an appointment as an assistant surgeon in the Medical Department of the U.S. Army. In November 1874 he reported to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for his first army assignment as a surgeon....