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

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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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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....

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James Markham Ambler. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B01766).

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Ambler, James Markham Marshall (30 December 1848–30 October 1881), naval surgeon and explorer, was born in Markham, Virginia, the son of Richard Cary Ambler, a physician, and Susan Marshall. At age sixteen Ambler became a volunteer in the Twelfth Virginia Cavalry. He studied a premedicine curriculum at Washington College in 1865–1867 and then entered the University of Maryland. After acquiring a medical degree in 1870, he practiced in Baltimore until his appointment as an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Navy. During 1874–1875, he was stationed in the North Atlantic. In 1877 he joined the staff of the Naval Hospital at Norfolk, Virginia....

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Apgar, Virginia (07 June 1909–07 August 1974), physician, anesthesiologist, and teratologist, was born in Westfield, New Jersey, the daughter of Charles Emory Apgar, an insurance executive, and Helen May Clarke. She had two brothers, one of whom died of tuberculosis at age three. Apgar’s father conducted amateur experiments in electricity and astronomy, which stimulated her interest in science and medicine. After schooling in Westfield, Apgar attended Mount Holyoke College, obtaining her A.B. degree in 1929. She completed her M.D. at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, in 1933. Then followed two brilliant years in surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, but the department chairman, Alan Whipple, discouraged her from surgical practice. He cited the depression and financial insecurities experienced by his previous female trainees and urged her instead to consider anesthesia, not yet a medical specialty but often done by women nurse practitioners. Apgar spent six months in anesthesia training at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and six months at Bellevue Hospital in New York City before returning to Columbia-Presbyterian in 1938 as director of the Division of Anesthesiology; she was the first woman to head a medical division in that institution....

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John L. Atlee. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02018).

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Atlee, John Light (02 November 1799–01 October 1885), physician and surgeon, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Colonel William Pitt Atlee and Sarah Light. With the exception of the winter of 1813–1814, when he attended Gray and Wylie’s Academy in Philadelphia, he received his early schooling in Lancaster. In 1815 he began the study of medicine under Samuel Humes, continuing there while attending the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania; he received his M.D. in 1820. He returned to Lancaster to establish himself in practice and remained there for the rest of his life. In 1822 he married Sarah Howell Franklin, daughter of Judge Walter Franklin of Lancaster County; they had three children....

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Washington L. Atlee. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02019).

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Atlee, Washington Lemuel (22 February 1808–06 September 1878), physician and surgeon, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Colonel William Pitt Atlee and Sarah Light. After an unsuccessful apprenticeship in a dry-goods store, he went at age sixteen to study medicine with his brother, ...

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Bassett, John Young (12 June 1805–02 November 1851), surgeon, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Isaac Bassett and Nancy Davidson. The extent of his early education is not known, but he received an M.D. from Washington Medical College in Baltimore in 1830. Following completion of medical school lectures, he and his brother Frank, an apothecary, went to Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, where they began to operate a drug store. There, without a fortune or family influences, John Bassett slowly began to build a medical practice. Prospering modestly, on 21 April 1831 he married the daughter of a local physician, Isaphoena Thompson; they had five children who reached maturity....

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Robert Battey. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02478).

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Battey, Robert (26 November 1828–08 November 1895), surgeon, was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of Cephas Battey and Mary Agnes Magruder. Battey attended Richmond Academy in Augusta and then Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1844. After graduation, Battey first worked in Detroit and then in Marshall, Michigan, before returning south to work as a drugstore clerk in Rome, Georgia. By 1849 he was the proprietor of his own drugstore and had married Martha B. Smith, with whom he would have fourteen children. While in Rome, Battey began studying medicine under his brother George M. Battey. He continued his education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1855, first in Professor ...

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Richard Bayley. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02524).

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Bayley, Richard (1745–17 August 1801), physician and surgeon, was born in Fairfield, Connecticut. Little is known about his parents except that his mother was French, and his father was English. Indeed, it appears that little was known even to Bayley’s contemporaries. What is certain about Bayley is that he was an ambitious and innovative physician. After an early education that included French and the classics, he took an apprenticeship with the prestigious and fashionable New York physician John Charlton in 1766. Bayley studied with Charlton for three years; during that time he successfully courted and married his preceptor’s sister. They had children, but the precise number is uncertain. After completing his apprenticeship, Bayley wanted to put further polish on his medical education and in 1769 sailed to London to study with ...

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Beck, Claude Schaeffer (08 November 1894–14 October 1971), surgeon and educator, was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, the son of Simon Beck and Martha Schaeffer. He attended public schools in Shamokin, graduating as valedictorian of his high school class in 1911. After graduating from Millersville State Normal School in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1914, he continued his undergraduate education at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, receiving his A.B. in 1916. Inspired by one of his professors, Richard Schiedt, to enter the field of medicine, Beck enrolled at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, completing his M.D. in 1921....

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Benites, José María (fl. 1803–1806), surgeon and eighth surgeon general of California, was born presumably in Catalonia, Spain; his date of birth, parentage, and date of death are all unknown.

Little information is available about the nine men who served as surgeon general of California during the Spanish colonial period that began with the Portola expedition, which in 1769 was sent out from Mexico to extend Spain’s control up the coast, and ended about 1822. What is known, however, is that about 1800 the appallingly high mortality rate of the neophyte population, as reported annually by the Franciscan missionaries, began to trouble both the spiritual and the temporal authorities in Mexico City....

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Arthur Dean Bevan. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Bevan, Arthur Dean (09 August 1861–10 June 1943), surgeon and reformer of medical education, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Thomas Bevan, a physician, and Sarah Elizabeth Ramsey. After attending high school in Chicago, Bevan earned his Ph.B. at Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School in 1881. He then entered Rush Medical College in Chicago and obtained his M.D. in 1883. He finished first in the competitive examination for the U.S. Marine Hospital Service....