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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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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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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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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....

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Lattimore, John Aaron Cicero (23 June 1876?–31 December 1959), physician and civil rights activist, was born near Shelby, Cleveland County, North Carolina, the son of John Carpenter Lattimore and Marcella Hambrick, former slaves and farmers. Lattimore graduated from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an A.B. in 1897. He then attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving his M.D. in 1901. With a fellow classmate, H. B. Beck, as a partner, he began the general practice of medicine in Louisville, Kentucky; after considerable effort, his practice grew. In 1928 he married Naomi Anthony of Louisville; they had no children....

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Majors, Monroe Alpheus (12 October 1864–10 December 1960), physician, civil rights activist, and writer, was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Andrew Jackson Majors and Jane Barringer. In 1869 his family moved to Austin, Texas. After attending public schools in Austin, Majors studied at West Texas College, Tillotson Normal and Collegiate Institute, Central Tennessee College, and finally Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from which he graduated in 1886....

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Mayo, Sara (26 May 1869–07 March 1930), physician and humanitarian reformer, was born Sara Tew Mayo on a plantation in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, near the town of Vidalia, the daughter of George Spencer Mayo, a lawyer, and Emily Tew. After the death of her parents, Sara spent her early years in New Orleans at the home of her father’s cousin, Judge William Brainerd Spencer. After receiving her primary education in the city’s public schools, she attended Millwood High School in Jackson, a town north of New Orleans close to the Mississippi border. As a child, Sara showed an interest in nursing and medicine by constantly ministering to her dolls and pets. Determined to become a physician, she applied to Tulane University Medical School but was rejected. Undeterred, she left for Philadelphia, where she entered Woman’s Medical College, graduating in 1898. She then returned to New Orleans, where she was to practice medicine for the next thirty-two years....

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McClendon, James Julius (16 March 1898–20 April 1982), physician and civil rights activist, was born in Rome, Georgia, the son of Benjamin McClendon, who died when James was very young, and Louisa Buckner. With the assistance of siblings, he graduated from Atlanta University (1921) and by his own efforts earned an M.D. at Meharry Medical College (1926). He then moved to Detroit, interned at black-owned Dunbar Hospital, and served as a staff member of Hutzel Hospital for nearly fifty years. Assisting patients of all classes, “Doc Mac” never refused treatment to the poor. He cofounded the Fairview Sanatorium and served on several black and white staffs, including those of Parkside and Woman’s Hospital. In 1932 he married college graduate Irene Hunter Scruggs; the couple had two daughters. McClendon actively participated in the Second Street Baptist Church and St. Antoine Street Young Men’s Christian Association....

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Montezuma, Carlos (1866?–31 January 1923), American Indian activist and medical doctor, was born in central Arizona, the son of a Yavapai mother and Yavapai father, both of whom died in his early childhood. At the time of Montezuma’s birth, the Yavapais had not yet been confined to reservations. But their world, an area of perhaps 20,000 square miles, was becoming rapidly enclosed and invaded by Anglo-Americans and other Indian communities. The Yavapai territory in which they gathered the foods of the region and hunted also possessed gold, which attracted miners to the area during this decade....

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Benjamin Rush. Engraving by James Barton Longacreof a painting by Thomas Sully. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97104 ).

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Rush, Benjamin (04 January 1746–19 April 1813), physician, professor of chemistry and of medicine, and social reformer, was born in Byberry Township, Pennsylvania, thirteen miles northeast of Philadelphia, the son of John Rush, a farmer and gunsmith, and Susanna Hall Harvey. John Rush died when Benjamin was five years old. His mother ran a grocery store to support the family. She sent Benjamin at age eight to live with an uncle by marriage, the Reverend Dr. ...

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Russ, John Dennison (01 September 1801–01 March 1881), educator of the blind, social reformer, and physician, was born in what is now Essex (then part of Ipswich), Essex County, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Russ, a physician, and Elizabeth Cogswell. He graduated from Yale College in 1823 and soon afterward went to Brunswick, Maine, where he studied medicine with Dr. John D. Wells, a member of the faculty of medicine at Bowdoin College (Russ did not enroll at Bowdoin, however). He studied further in Baltimore and Boston and in 1825 received the M.D. degree from Yale Medical School. During 1825 and 1826 Russ was in Europe where he served in several hospitals. After his return to the United States he practiced medicine in New York City....

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Townsend, Francis Everett (13 January 1867–01 September 1960), physician and creator of the old-age revolving pension plan during the Great Depression, was born near Fairbury, Illinois, the son of George Warren Townsend and Sarah Ann Harper, farmers. Poor but deeply religious, the family moved to Nebraska in search of more fertile soil. After completing secondary school in Nebraska, Townsend traveled with a brother to southern California in a brief but unsuccessful effort to cash in on the early Los Angeles land boom. He then returned to the Midwest to try homesteading on his own farm in northwestern Kansas and, after failing in that effort, worked as an itinerant laborer in the Colorado Rockies and as a salesman in Kansas. He saved enough to enroll at Omaha Medical College in 1899 and graduated in 1903....