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Atkinson, William Biddle (21 June 1832–23 November 1909), obstetrician and medical biographer, was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac Sleeper Atkinson and Mary Reese Biddle. Atkinson began his medical studies in 1850 under the preceptorship of Samuel McClellan, who was probably influential in Atkinson’s choice of a medical specialty and certainly influential in his later appointment to the Pennsylvania Medical College. Atkinson completed his medical training in 1853 after three courses of lectures at the Jefferson Medical College. For several years after graduation he devoted part of his time to teaching classics and mathematics in Philadelphia and part to his medical practice. It was during this period that Atkinson began a lifelong involvement as the correspondent or editor of various medical periodicals....

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Ballard, Martha Moore (20 February 1735–19 May 1812), midwife and diarist, was born in Oxford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Elijah Moore and Dorothy Learned, farmers and innkeepers. Nothing is known about her early life and education. Though the Learned and Moore families were moderately prosperous, Martha’s mother signed the only document bearing her name with a mark. Martha’s father and grandfathers were town selectmen and militia officers. Her younger brother, Jonathan Moore, was Oxford’s second college graduate and for a time served as librarian of Harvard College. Her uncle Abijah Moore, a graduate of Yale College, and her brother-in-law, Stephen Barton, were physicians. Presumably Martha learned her craft through working with an older midwife in Oxford....

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DeLee, Joseph Bolivar (28 October 1869–02 April 1942), obstetrician, was born in Cold Spring, New York, the son of Morris DeLee, a dry goods merchant, and Dora Tobias. He was the son of Jewish immigrants, and his father desired him to become a rabbi, but his mother encouraged him to become a doctor. DeLee attended the City College of New York. He received an M.D. from the Chicago Medical College (later Northwestern University Medical School) in 1891, and then completed an eighteen-month internship at the Cook County Hospital....

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Dewees, William Potts (05 May 1768–20 May 1841), obstetrician, was born in Pottsgrove (now Pottstown), Pennsylvania; his parents’ names and occupations are unknown. After working for several years as an apothecary’s apprentice, in 1787 he began studying medicine with William Smith, a Philadelphia physician, while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Upon receiving his M.B. in 1789, he opened a general medical practice in Abington, Pennsylvania. In 1791 he married Martha Rogers, who died shortly thereafter. He relocated his practice to Philadelphia in 1793, mostly because the epidemics of yellow fever that had swept that city for a number of years had greatly increased the demand for physicians. The next year he was one of only three medical practitioners to realize that yet another epidemic had broken out, and for the remainder of the decade he frequently attended victims of yellow fever at no charge....

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Guttmacher, Alan (19 May 1898–18 March 1974), physician and birth-control advocate, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Adolf Guttmacher, a leading Reform rabbi, and Laura Oppenheimer, a social worker. Alan had an identical twin, Manfred, with whom he was very close throughout his life, and a sister. His early years were happy ones in a household where Judaism set the guiding tone. Alan’s paternal great-grandfather had been the chief rabbi of Gratz, and when the family immigrated to the United States they maintained their faith. But Guttmacher renounced his faith after his father died suddenly when Alan was sixteen. Two years later, in 1915, the twins entered Johns Hopkins University. Alan originally planned to pursue a career in English or history, but a brief stint as a private in the army in 1918 changed his direction....

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Hodge, Hugh Lenox (27 June 1796–26 February 1873), physician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Hodge, a and Maria Blanchard. He gained his early education under the tutelage of Mr. Thompson at the grammar school of the University of Pennsylvania and later attended boarding schools in Summerville and New Brunswick, New Jersey. He received an A.B. from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1814. Upon graduation, he began a medical apprenticeship with the renowned anatomist ...

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Lambright, Middleton Huger (03 August 1865–21 March 1959), obstetrician, was born near Moncks Corner, South Carolina, the son of freed slaves, John Lambright and Mary Gelzer, farmers. Middleton was one of thirteen children, and although he himself was born free, more than half of his siblings were born into slavery. As a young man he often accompanied his father to Charleston for supplies. Their route took them by the Medical College of South Carolina, and Middleton would question his father about the young men in white coats walking on the campus. This experience established in him the notion of studying medicine. When a life-threatening accident brought him into personal contact with a physician for a period of several months, he became convinced of his life’s ambition. With the support of his family, Lambright eventually graduated from Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, with the A.B. degree. In 1898 he received his M.D. from the Meharry Medical Department of Central Tennessee College (now known as Meharry Medical College). Believing his chances to improve his lot were better outside the South, that fall he migrated to Kansas City, Missouri, where large numbers of blacks and whites were moving to jobs in the shipping and meat-packing industries....

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Meigs, Charles Delucena (19 February 1792–22 June 1869), physician and teacher, was born in St. George, Bermuda, the son of Josiah Meigs, an editor, educator, and lawyer, and Clara Benjamin. Josiah, although born and raised in Connecticut, was serving as a proctor in the English courts of admiralty in Bermuda when Meigs, the fifth of ten children, was born. The family moved back to Connecticut in 1794, and soon thereafter Meigs’s father was elected professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Yale College. After six years in New Haven, the family moved to Athens, Georgia, when the father was appointed president of the University of Georgia....

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Theophilus Parvin. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Parvin, Theophilus (09 January 1829–29 January 1898), obstetrician and gynecologist, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of Theophilus Parvin, a minister-missionary, and Mary Rodney. His mother was the daughter of Caesar Augustus Rodney, U.S. attorney general in the cabinets of Presidents ...

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Price, Joseph (01 January 1853–08 June 1911), surgeon and obstetrician, was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, the son of Joshua Price and Feby Moore, successful farmers. Price obtained his early education at the Fort Edward Collegiate Institute of New York. He entered Union College in Albany, New York, in 1871 but dropped out in 1872 to join the Engineering Corps of the New York Central Railroad. After his tenure at the New York Central Railroad in 1875, he attended the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with an M.D. in 1877. Following graduation he made three transatlantic voyages as ship’s surgeon to Antwerp, Belgium, and Liverpool, England, from Philadelphia. Upon his return in 1878 he practiced at the Philadelphia Dispensary at 127 S. Fifth Street....

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Van Blarcom, Carolyn Conant (12 June 1879–20 March 1960), nurse and midwife, was born in Alton, Illinois, the daughter of William Dixon Van Blarcom, a financier, and Fanny Emelie Conant, a linguist and pianist. Despite her father’s abandonment of the family, Carolyn and her five siblings were brought up comfortably by her mother. Rheumatic fever struck her at the age of six, and later she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Chronically ill, she was schooled at home until the age of fourteen, when her mother died and she was sent east to live with her grandfather....