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Fishberg, Maurice (16 August 1872–30 August 1934), physician, anthropologist, and Jewish community worker, was born in Kamenets-Podolski, Russia, the son of Philip Fishberg and Kate Moverman. Raised in a traditional Jewish household, Fishberg was introduced to modern scientific study in a Russian government school before immigrating to the United States in 1890. He attended the Medical College of New York University, where he received his M.D. in 1897. That same year he married Bertha Cantor; they had two children. Fishberg was initially engaged in private practice on New York’s Lower East Side, later securing a post as chief medical examiner for the city’s United Hebrew Charities. There Fishberg treated immigrant patients who relied on the support of the Jewish community and made recommendations to community leaders on how social conditions and medical care for the Jewish poor could be improved. While at the United Hebrew Charities, Fishberg became concerned with the attempts of immigration restrictionists to paint Jewish immigrants as carriers of disease. His early medical scholarship, therefore, mustered scientific data in an attempt to dispel myths concerning “Jewish pathology,” particularly the common accusation that immigrants were responsible for the spread of tuberculosis. Fishberg demonstrated, in fact, that Jews were more immune to tuberculosis than other immigrants, a fact he attributed to their religious customs and previous exposure to urban life in European towns and cities....

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Samuel George Morton. Engraving by T. B. Welch. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B019993).

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Morton, Samuel George (26 January 1799–15 May 1851), physician and physical anthropologist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George Morton, a merchant, and Jane Cummings. His father died soon after his birth, and his mother moved her family to West Farms, in Westchester County, New York, where Morton attended Quaker schools. On her remarriage in 1812 (to Thomas Rogers, an amateur mineralogist), the family returned to Philadelphia, where Morton continued to attend Quaker schools until 1815, when he was apprenticed to a merchant. His teachers—notably John Gummere of Burlington, New Jersey—and stepfather encouraged his continuing interest in things scientific, and in 1817 (at his mother’s death) Morton began studying medicine privately with Philadelphia physician ...

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Sheldon, William Herbert (17 November 1898–16 September 1977), psychologist and physician, was born in Warwick, Rhode Island, the son of William Herbert Sheldon, a jeweler, and Mary Abby Greene. Little is known about Sheldon’s parents, but the psychologist was very close to his father, an amateur naturalist, hunting guide, and professional breeder as well as a judge of sporting dogs and poultry. William Herbert Sheldon, Sr., who is said to have been a close friend of psychologist and philosopher ...