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Burnett, Waldo Irving (12 July 1828–01 July 1854), zoologist and physician, was born in Southborough, Massachusetts, the son of Joel Burnett, a physician, and Sarah (maiden name unknown). His early education, obtained at local schools, seems to have been eclectic, and he neither sought nor received a college degree. From his father, who was a skilled physician and a dedicated botanist and entomologist, he acquired an interest and received training in medicine and zoology. In his early boyhood, he embarked on the study of insects and other animals with an intensity that would characterize his life. He was precocious, something of a prodigy, and an autodidact. He developed such ability in mathematics that his teachers were no longer capable of giving him instruction. Almost without assistance he mastered French, Spanish, and German. By the age of sixteen he had dedicated himself to the study of medicine; his decision was stimulated by involvement in his father’s professional activities. Equally enthralled by entomology, he collected, studied, and classified insects, demonstrating critical powers of inquiry and observation. A change in the family’s finances following his father’s death during Burnett’s sixteenth year made it necessary for him to begin teaching school as he embarked on the study of medicine. He received his medical education under the direction of Dr. Joseph Sargent of Worcester, Massachusetts, at the Tremont Medical School in Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital and became a skilled microscopist and essayist. For two consecutive years (1847 and 1848) he was awarded the prize for the best essay offered by the Boylston Medical Society. In the first of his prize essays, titled “Cancer,” he addressed the subject in terms of microscopic tissue structure, a pioneering insight for the time. His second essay, “The Sexual System,” was one of the earliest American contributions to the fields of reproductive biology and embryology. Burnett was awarded the degree of doctor of medicine in 1849 at the age of twenty-one. Shortly thereafter, he embarked for Europe, where he spent four months, mostly in Paris, engaged in microscopic observations and the study of natural history. While in Paris, he discovered that he had tuberculosis, the disease that eventually killed him. Returning to the United States, he became a peripatetic scholar for reasons of health. Based in Boston, he passed the winters in South Carolina, Georgia, or Florida. In spite of his constant travels, he was incessantly occupied with microscopic observations and accomplished an almost incredible amount of intellectual labor....

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Girard, Charles Frédéric (09 March 1822–29 January 1895), zoologist and physician, was born in Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, France; his parents’ names are unknown. He received his education at the College de Neuchâtel in Switzerland, beginning probably in 1839. There he was a student and later an assistant to ...

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Gould, Augustus Addison (23 April 1805–15 September 1866), physician and conchologist, was born in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the son of Nathaniel Duren Gould, a music teacher and conductor, and Sally Andrews Prichard. Taking charge of the family farm at age fifteen, he prepared for college and entered Harvard University in 1821, receiving an A.B. degree in 1825. Thereafter, he served two years as tutor with the McBlair family in Baltimore County, Maryland. Deciding on a medical career, Gould studied with physicians ...

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Horn, George Henry (07 April 1840–24 November 1897), entomologist and physician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Philip Henry Horn, a pharmacist, and Francis Isabella Brock. Upon completion of his elementary education in Philadelphia in 1853, Horn enrolled in the city’s Central High School, from which he received the bachelor of arts degree five years later. Soon thereafter he entered the medical program of the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded the M.D. degree in 1861. During his days as a medical student Horn developed an interest in living and fossil marine invertebrates, and in 1860 he presented a paper before the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, in which he described three species of gorgonian corals. Over the next two years he published three papers on recent and fossil scleractinian corals. Meanwhile Horn had joined the Entomological Society of Philadelphia (later the American Entomological Society), before which, in 1860–1861, he presented three papers, the most significant of which was a presentation describing seven new species of Coleoptera, or beetles....

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Williams, Joseph Leroy (04 February 1906–01 July 1965), entomologist and medical practitioner, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, the son of Wiley Louis Williams and Lille Golden. His father, a Pullman Service employee with little formal schooling, urged the importance of a good education on his seven children—all of whom pursued college studies after high school. Joseph, the eldest, attended Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk. He had planned to follow his father into railroad work for a short time to earn money for college tuition, but was too young. Instead, he accepted a football scholarship to Morgan College in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1926, after a year at Morgan, he transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, graduating with an A.B. in 1929. In 1934 he married Carrie Pauline Watson, an educator who became dean of women at Cheney State College. They had three children....