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Nathan Allen. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B01026).

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Allen, Nathan (25 April 1813–01 January 1889), physician, social reformer, and public health advocate, was born in Princeton, Massachusetts, the son of Moses Allen and Mehitable Oliver, farmers. He spent his first seventeen years on the family farm, learning to work hard and to follow the Christian principles of his parents. He could not afford a higher education, but a friend in Leicester helped pay his tuition at Amherst Academy and then at Amherst College, where he matriculated in 1832, graduating in 1836....

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Arnold, Richard Dennis (19 August 1808–10 July 1876), physician, was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of Joseph Arnold and Eliza Dennis, occupations unknown. Despite hardships accompanying the deaths of both parents during childhood, Arnold, who had been an only child, received an excellent preliminary education and graduated with distinction from Princeton in 1826. He immediately began a medical apprenticeship under William R. Waring, a distinguished preceptor and member of an illustrious Charleston and Savannah family of physicians. After receiving his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830, Arnold served for two years as a resident house officer in Philadelphia’s old Blockley Hospital before returning to Savannah where in 1833 he married Margaret Baugh Stirk. Their only child, Eleanor, born the next year, became the lifelong object of her father’s loving solicitude following her mother’s untimely death from pulmonary tuberculosis in 1850....

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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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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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John Shaw Billings. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library and Museum, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Billings, John Shaw (12 April 1838–11 March 1913), army medical officer, library organizer, and public health activist, was born near Allensville, Indiana, the son of James Billings, a farmer and storekeeper, and Abby Shaw. Despite spotty secondary schooling, he ultimately went to Miami College (Ohio), where he earned his B.A. in 1857. He was awarded the M.D. by the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. Billings remained with the latter institution for a year as an anatomical demonstrator, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army as a contract surgeon. In 1862 he was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon and went on to make army service his career. Also in 1862 he married Katharine Mary Stevens; they had five children....

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Bowditch, Henry Ingersoll (09 August 1808–14 January 1892), physician, public hygienist, and abolitionist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematician and astronomer, and Mary Ingersoll. Raised in a patrician family, Bowditch, who received his early education at the Salem Private Grammar School and Boston Public Latin School, graduated from Harvard College in 1828. He then studied at the Harvard Medical School and supplemented its didactic lectures by serving in 1831–1832 as house officer at the Massachusetts General Hospital....

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Brooke, Abraham (1806–08 March 1867), physician and radical reformer, was born at Sandy Spring, Maryland, the son of Samuel Brooke and Sarah Garrigues, farmers. The Brooke family had been leading Quakers in Maryland for several generations, and Abraham attended Quaker schools at Sandy Spring before entering medical college in Baltimore. In 1829 he married Elizabeth Lukens, a fellow Quaker from Sandy Spring; they had three children. When the Hicksite-Orthodox schism took place among Quakers, the Brookes, like most Maryland Friends, sided with the Hicksite group....

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Herman N. Bundesen. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03896).

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Bundesen, Herman Niels (27 April 1882–15 August 1960), physician, author, and politician, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of a Danish father and a German mother whose identities are unknown. Brought to Chicago at an early age by his impoverished, widowed mother, he graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1909. Also in 1909 he married Rega Russell; they had six children....

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Chapin, Henry Dwight (04 February 1857–27 June 1942), physician, was born in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of the Reverend Henry Barton Chapin, a Presbyterian minister, and Harriet Ann Smith. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1877 and studied medicine with a preceptor (possibly Dr. ...

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Crumbine, Samuel Jay (17 September 1862–12 July 1954), physician and public health reformer, was born in Venango County, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Jacob Krumbine and Sarah Mull. Crumbine’s father, a blacksmith and small-scale farmer, served in the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War, was captured, and died in Libby Prison. Crumbine and his mother lived with his maternal grandmother until, at the age of eight, he entered the Soldiers Orphan School in Mercer, Pennsylvania. Because schoolmates called him “Crummie,” he began spelling his last name with a ...

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Douglass, William ( October 1681–21 October 1752), doctor, historian, and pioneer in colonial philanthropy, was born in Gifford, Scotland, the son of George Douglass, chamberlain to the marquis of Tweeddale, and Katherine Inglis. His father, a man of distinction in local affairs, was able to afford a fine education for his son. William earned his master’s degree in 1705 from Edinburgh University where, influenced by Dr. Archibald Pitcairne, he decided on a medical career. At the University of Leyden he studied under Dr. Herman Boerhaave and then earned his medical degree from the University of Utrecht in 1712. His medical dissertation, ...

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Flick, Lawrence Francis (10 August 1856–07 July 1938), physician, historian, and early leader in the campaign against tuberculosis, was born in Carroll Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Flick, a mill owner and farmer, and Elizabeth Schabacher (changed to Sharbaugh). Flick grew up on the family farm, but poor health excused him from the usual chores. A bookish boy and a devout Roman Catholic, he first attended local schools. For most of his teenage years, he studied at St. Vincent’s, a Benedictine college in Beatty (now Latrobe), Pennsylvania, but symptoms suggesting tuberculosis cut short his classwork, and he returned home. After a period of indecision and various jobs, he entered Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1879. He then completed an internship at Philadelphia Hospital and opened an office for the practice of medicine. His persisting illness, however, was finally diagnosed as tuberculosis and, following his physicians’ advice, he traveled to the West for his health. By 1883, improvement allowed him to resume his practice, which soon included increasing numbers of patients with tuberculosis. “When I recovered from tuberculosis as a young man,” he wrote, “I consecrated my life to the welfare of those afflicted with the disease and to the protection of those who had not yet contracted it” ( ...

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Foote, Edward Bliss (20 February 1829–05 October 1906), eclectic physician and birth-control pioneer, was born near Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Herschel Foote, a postmaster, and Pamelia Bliss. Foote left school at fifteen to pursue a career in journalism, first with the Cleveland Herald...

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Garcia, Hector Perez (17 January 1914–26 July 1996), physician, community organizer, and civil rights activist, was born 17 January 1914 in Llera, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was the second of nine children born to José and Faustina García, who emigrated to Mercedes, Texas, in 1917. Both of García’s parents were teachers in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution forced the family to flee the country. They instilled in their children the value of education, conducting daily lessons in language, literature, history, and math. In Mercedes Héctor’s father was a small business owner managing a dry-goods store and supporting all of his children through college. Remarkably, six of the García children would complete medical degrees....

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Harrington, Thomas Francis (10 June 1866–19 January 1919), physician and public health educator, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Harrington and Mary Callaghan. In October 1885, following graduation from Lowell High School, he matriculated at the Harvard Medical School, enrolling at a time when the college degree was not yet a requirement for admission. He graduated in the class of 1888 and continued his medical education for another year in Europe, at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and at the Children’s Hospital in London, and in Paris and Vienna. Late in 1889 he established a medical practice in his native Lowell, focusing on internal medicine, including pediatrics and gynecology. Harrington held appointments as visiting physician to St. John’s Hospital for fifteen years and as consulting physician for three years afterward. In 1891 he married Mary I. Dempsey of Lowell,with whom he had three sons....

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Harrison, Tillson Lever (07 January 1881–10 January 1947), physician, humanitarian, and bigamist, was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, the son of Henry Bailey Harrison, a banker, and Harriett Adele Tillson. Harrison's maternal grandfather was the town's wealthy patriarch, Edwin “E.D.” Tillson, whose company was the precursor of the Quaker Oats Company of Canada. Harrison enjoyed a charmed life, regularly winning prizes at county fairs for excellence in the poultry that he raised on E.D.'s experimental farm. In 1895 Harrison ran away to join the Twenty‐second Oxford Rifles militia, but was returned home when it was discovered that he was underage....