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Cadwallader Colden. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B04876).

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Colden, Cadwallader (07 February 1689–20 September 1776), physician, natural scientist, and lieutenant governor of New York, was born of Scottish parents in Ireland, where his mother (name unknown) was visiting. His father was the Reverend Alexander Colden of Duns, Scotland. Colden graduated in 1705 from the University of Edinburgh. He then studied medicine in London but, lacking the money to establish a medical practice in Great Britain, migrated to Philadelphia in 1710. Welcomed by his mother’s sister Elizabeth Hill, Colden established himself as a merchant and physician. He returned to Scotland briefly in 1715, where in November of that year he married Alice Chrystie of Kelso, Scotland. After their marriage they returned to Philadelphia; the couple had eleven children. During a 1717 visit to New York, Colden was persuaded by Governor ...

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James G. Cooper. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B05305).

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Cooper, James Graham (19 June 1830–19 July 1902), naturalist and physician, was born in New York City, the son of William Cooper and Frances Graham. William Cooper (for whom the species commonly known as Cooper’s hawk is named) was a founding member of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York and was closely associated with ...

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Daniel Drake. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B07403).

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Drake, Daniel (20 October 1785–05 November 1852), physician, naturalist, and educator, was born near Bound Brook, New Jersey, the son of Isaac Drake and Elizabeth Shotwell, farmers. The family moved west in 1788 to Mays Lick, Kentucky. At the age of fifteen Drake was apprenticed to Dr. ...

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Garden, Alexander ( January 1730–15 April 1791), physician and naturalist, was born in Birse, Scotland, the son of the Reverend Alexander Garden, a clergyman in the Church of Scotland. The details of Garden’s early education are not known, but from around 1743 to 1746 he was apprenticed to James Gordon, professor of medicine at Marischal College, Aberdeen. Garden studied medicine, philosophy, classics, Latin, Greek, French, and Italian at Marischal, and during this time Gordon sparked Garden’s initial interest in natural history. In 1746 Garden was qualified as a surgeon’s second mate in the British navy, but, failing to receive an appointment, he returned from London and resumed his work with Gordon until 1748. From 1748 to 1750 he was a surgeon’s first mate in the navy, serving on three ships. In 1750 he resumed his medical education at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied under John Gregory and Charles Alston. Alston was the King’s Botanist, Keeper of the Garden at Holyrood, and professor of botany and medicine at the university, and under his influence, Garden acquired a passion for botany that continued for the rest of his life. Completing his formal training, Garden was awarded the A.M. degree in 1753 from Marischal College, which also granted him the M.D. degree in 1754....

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Hildreth, Samuel Prescott (30 September 1783–24 July 1863), physician, naturalist, and historian, was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Hildreth, a physician and farmer, and Abigail Bodwell. At age fifteen he entered Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; he spent four terms at Andover and Franklin academies. He studied medicine first under his father and then for two years under Thomas Kittredge of Andover. To complete his education, he attended an eight-week course at Harvard Medical School, after which he received a diploma from the Medical Society of Massachusetts in 1805....

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John Edwards Holbrook. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B014888).

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Holbrook, John Edwards (30 December 1794–08 September 1871), physician and naturalist, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Silas Holbrook, a teacher, and Mary Edwards. Although he lived in South Carolina for at least the first two years of his life, Holbrook grew up in North Wrentham (later incorporated into Norfolk), Massachusetts, the original home of his father, who died in 1800, and his uncle and, later, stepfather, Daniel Holbrook. After receiving his preparatory education locally at Day’s Academy and from a tutor in a neighboring town, he enrolled in Brown University, from which he received his baccalaureate in 1815. Holbrook then studied briefly with a physician in Boston and later entered the medical program of the University of Pennsylvania. Upon receiving his M.D. in 1818 he went abroad and traveled extensively in Ireland and Great Britain, collecting botanical and mineral specimens, visiting hospitals, and, at the University of Edinburgh, attending lectures in medicine and natural history. He ended his tour in London in December 1819 and then went to the Continent to travel about Italy, Germany, and France. Holbrook spent considerable time at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and became well-acquainted with a number of prominent naturalists, including Achille Valenciennes....

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Jared Potter Kirtland. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B016342).

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Kirtland, Jared Potter (10 November 1793–10 December 1877), naturalist and physician, was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, the son of Turhand Kirtland, a land agent, and Mary Potter. Kirtland’s father moved from Connecticut to Poland, Ohio, in 1803, leaving Kirtland behind in the care of his maternal grandfather, Jared Potter, who was a physician and naturalist. Kirtland attended the Wallingford and Cheshire Academies and, under the tutelage of his grandfather, had an extensive education in natural history and particularly in horticulture. When his father became ill in 1810, Kirtland traveled to Poland, Ohio, frequently stopping along the way to study natural history and to visit gardens and orchards. Upon arriving in Poland, he began teaching in the village school and may have intended to stay for a prolonged period, but the death of his grandfather in 1811 caused Kirtland to return to Wallingford. He inherited Potter’s library and enough money to enable him to study medicine, first with preceptors in Wallingford and Hartford, and then, beginning in 1813, at the new medical school at Yale. In 1814 he attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania but returned to Yale, from which he received a medical degree in March 1815. Continuing his studies in natural history, he studied geology and mineralogy at Yale with ...

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Mitchell, John (1690?–1768), physician and naturalist., His birthplace and parentage are now unknown. The details of Mitchell’s early life remain obscure. In all likelihood, he was born in Britain around 1690. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he apparently learned the experimental method and became interested in plant taxonomy. A few sources suggest that Mitchell was born in Virginia and went from there to Edinburgh and perhaps Leiden for his formal education. Sources agree that Mitchell had established a medical practice in Virginia at least by 1738, for in that year he sent his former Edinburgh botany professor, Charles Alston, a collection of American plant specimens and seeds. Also in 1739 he submitted a manuscript to the chief American correspondent for the Royal Society of London, Peter Collinson, describing several new genera of Virginia plants....

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Ravenel, Edmund (08 December 1797–27 July 1871), physician and naturalist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Daniel Ravenel, a planter, and Catherine Prioleau. The sixth of nine children born to enterprising Huguenot parents, Ravenel received a sizable inheritance upon the death of his father in 1807. Little is known of his education before he entered the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated first in his class in 1819. Soon thereafter Ravenel settled in Charleston to practice medicine. By 1823 he had also established a summer residence and a practice on nearby Sullivan’s Island, where he began to study fishes and to collect mollusk shells. In 1823 he married Charlotte Matilda Ford, who died in 1826, two days after the birth of a daughter. Three years later, Ravenel married Charlotte’s half sister Louisa Catherine Ford, with whom he had seven children....

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Saugrain De Vigni, Antoine François (17 February 1763–18 or 19 May 1820), naturalist, mineralogist, surgeon, and physician, was born in Paris, France, the son of Antoine Claude Saugrain, a bookseller, and Marie Brunet. Little is known of Saugrain’s education other than through a 1787 letter of introduction to ...

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Storer, David Humphreys (26 March 1804–10 September 1891), physician and naturalist, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of Woodbury Storer, a merchant, shipowner, and chief justice of common pleas, and Margaret Boyd. He received an A.B. degree from Bowdoin College in 1822, after which he took up the study of medicine and graduated from the Harvard Medical School in 1825. Having apprenticed to Dr. ...

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Williams, Stephen West (27 March 1790–07 July 1855), physician, naturalist, and medical historian, was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the son of William Stoddard, a physician, and Mary Hoyt. Williams attended the local academy and at age eighteen began to study medicine with his father. While still a student, he sent Dr. ...