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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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Biggs, Hermann Michael (29 September 1859–28 June 1923), pathologist, bacteriologist, physician, and public health official, was born in Trumansburg, New York, the son of Joseph Hunt Biggs and Melissa Pratt. Dr. Biggs married Frances M. Richardson, of Hornellsville, New York, in 1898; they had two children. Biggs received his primary education in Ithaca, New York, and matriculated into Cornell University, where he received the bachelor of arts degree in 1882. From Cornell Biggs went on to medical school at the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, where he received his M.D. the following year. He spent the next eighteen months (1882–1883) in the postgraduate course at Bellevue, where he served as a rotating intern and resident physician. Upon completion of this course, Biggs traveled to Europe and spent the next two years (1883–1885) studying bacteriology in Berlin and Griefswald. When he returned to New York City in 1886, Biggs was made director of the newly opened Carnegie Bacteriology Laboratory of the Bellevue Hospital. His rise in academic rank was meteoric; appointed a lecturer in pathology in 1886, Biggs was made a full professor of pathology in 1889, professor of materia medica (pharmacology) in 1892, professor of therapeutics in 1898, and professor of medicine in 1912....

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John Shaw Billings. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library and Museum, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Billings, John Shaw (12 April 1838–11 March 1913), army medical officer, library organizer, and public health activist, was born near Allensville, Indiana, the son of James Billings, a farmer and storekeeper, and Abby Shaw. Despite spotty secondary schooling, he ultimately went to Miami College (Ohio), where he earned his B.A. in 1857. He was awarded the M.D. by the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. Billings remained with the latter institution for a year as an anatomical demonstrator, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army as a contract surgeon. In 1862 he was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon and went on to make army service his career. Also in 1862 he married Katharine Mary Stevens; they had five children....

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Blackwell, Elizabeth (03 February 1821–31 May 1910), physician, reformer, and medical educator, was born in Bristol, England, daughter of Samuel Blackwell, a prosperous sugar refiner, and Hannah Lane. Her father’s interest in abolitionism and in “perfectionist reform,” the belief that through education and spiritual regeneration human beings could achieve a just society on earth, coupled with a series of financial reversals, prompted a move to the United States in 1832 when Elizabeth was eleven....

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Bowditch, Henry Ingersoll (09 August 1808–14 January 1892), physician, public hygienist, and abolitionist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematician and astronomer, and Mary Ingersoll. Raised in a patrician family, Bowditch, who received his early education at the Salem Private Grammar School and Boston Public Latin School, graduated from Harvard College in 1828. He then studied at the Harvard Medical School and supplemented its didactic lectures by serving in 1831–1832 as house officer at the Massachusetts General Hospital....

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Buckel, C. Annette (25 August 1833–17 August 1912), physician, Civil War nurse, and mental health activist, was born Cloe Annette Buckel in Warsaw, New York, the daughter of Thomas Buckel and his wife (given name unknown), whose surname was Bartlett. Both parents died when Buckel, an only child, was three months old. Until the age of four she lived with her grandparents, and after they died she lived with two young aunts, neither of whom exhibited much warmth toward her. By age four Buckel had learned to read and write. Quickly outgrowing the local district school, she moved on to a more advanced one in a neighboring town. At age fourteen she started teaching school, boarding with her students’ parents, both in New York State and in Canada. While a youth she decided to become a physician. Financially unable to immediately begin formal medical school, she worked in a burnishing factory in Connecticut, living with her employer’s family, and studied Latin as she worked. By living simply and borrowing on a life insurance policy she had purchased, Buckel was able to enter the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1856. She later demonstrated the high regard she felt for the school by leaving it a bequest in her will....

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Herman N. Bundesen. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03896).

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Bundesen, Herman Niels (27 April 1882–15 August 1960), physician, author, and politician, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of a Danish father and a German mother whose identities are unknown. Brought to Chicago at an early age by his impoverished, widowed mother, he graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1909. Also in 1909 he married Rega Russell; they had six children....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Crumbine, Samuel Jay (17 September 1862–12 July 1954), physician and public health reformer, was born in Venango County, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Jacob Krumbine and Sarah Mull. Crumbine’s father, a blacksmith and small-scale farmer, served in the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War, was captured, and died in Libby Prison. Crumbine and his mother lived with his maternal grandmother until, at the age of eight, he entered the Soldiers Orphan School in Mercer, Pennsylvania. Because schoolmates called him “Crummie,” he began spelling his last name with a ...

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Daniel, Annie Sturges (21 September 1858–10 August 1944), physician and public health reformer, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of John M. Daniel, a coal and wood merchant, and Marinda Sturges. Both of her parents died while Annie was still a young child, and she was subsequently sent to Monticello, New York, to live with relatives. Curiosity about biology and anatomy led her to enroll in the Woman’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary, where she specialized in obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics. After receiving her M.D. in 1879, she worked as a pharmacist at the infirmary for a year before serving her internship. In 1881 Daniel was placed as the physician in charge of the Out-Practice Department, also known as the Tenement House Service, of the New York Infirmary. Assigned to this department by Dr. ...

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Flick, Lawrence Francis (10 August 1856–07 July 1938), physician, historian, and early leader in the campaign against tuberculosis, was born in Carroll Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Flick, a mill owner and farmer, and Elizabeth Schabacher (changed to Sharbaugh). Flick grew up on the family farm, but poor health excused him from the usual chores. A bookish boy and a devout Roman Catholic, he first attended local schools. For most of his teenage years, he studied at St. Vincent’s, a Benedictine college in Beatty (now Latrobe), Pennsylvania, but symptoms suggesting tuberculosis cut short his classwork, and he returned home. After a period of indecision and various jobs, he entered Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1879. He then completed an internship at Philadelphia Hospital and opened an office for the practice of medicine. His persisting illness, however, was finally diagnosed as tuberculosis and, following his physicians’ advice, he traveled to the West for his health. By 1883, improvement allowed him to resume his practice, which soon included increasing numbers of patients with tuberculosis. “When I recovered from tuberculosis as a young man,” he wrote, “I consecrated my life to the welfare of those afflicted with the disease and to the protection of those who had not yet contracted it” ( ...

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Gleason, Rachel Brooks (27 November 1820–17 March 1905), sectarian physician and health reformer, was born in Winhall, Vermont; her parents’ names and occupations are unknown. She attended local schools, including Townsend Academy. In 1844, following a brief teaching stint, Rachel married Silas Orsemus Gleason, M.D., a recent graduate of Castleton Medical College; the couple had two children....

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Greene, Cordelia Agnes (05 July 1831–28 January 1905), physician and health reformer, was born in Lyons, New York, the eldest of five children of Jabez Greene and Phila Cooke. New England farmers and former Quakers turned Presbyterians, her parents settled in western New York along the banks of the Erie Canal shortly before her birth. Her father’s piety was matched only by his interest in progressive education, and his active role as a trustee in the local public school no doubt sparked his daughter’s lifelong concern with self-improvement. A serious student, she earned a teacher’s certificate from the county while still in her early teens....

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Jacqueline Karnell Corn

Hamilton, Alice (27 February 1869–22 September 1970), physician, was born in New York City, the daughter of Montgomery Hamilton and Gertrude Pond. Her family resided in Fort Wayne, Indiana, dependent on an inherited fortune. Because her parents did not believe in conventional education, Alice and her siblings did not attend school. They were taught by both parents. She had two years of formal education before entering the University of Michigan Medical School. After that, a long period of professional training and deep feelings of social commitment prepared her for work in occupational health. The professional training was an accomplishment for a woman of her generation. She received the M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1893, then spent two months as an intern in the Hospital for Women and Children in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and nine months at the New England Hospital for Women and Children near Boston. She was then advised that if she wished to pursue a career in bacteriology and pathology, study in Germany was necessary to make her an expert. She went to Germany to study at Leipzig and Munich for one year. The following year she studied at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore....

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Harrington, Thomas Francis (10 June 1866–19 January 1919), physician and public health educator, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Harrington and Mary Callaghan. In October 1885, following graduation from Lowell High School, he matriculated at the Harvard Medical School, enrolling at a time when the college degree was not yet a requirement for admission. He graduated in the class of 1888 and continued his medical education for another year in Europe, at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and at the Children’s Hospital in London, and in Paris and Vienna. Late in 1889 he established a medical practice in his native Lowell, focusing on internal medicine, including pediatrics and gynecology. Harrington held appointments as visiting physician to St. John’s Hospital for fifteen years and as consulting physician for three years afterward. In 1891 he married Mary I. Dempsey of Lowell,with whom he had three sons....

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Hutchinson, Woods (03 January 1862–26 April 1930), physician and author, was born in Selby, Yorkshire, England, the son of Charles Hutchinson and Elizabeth Woods. In 1874 he immigrated with his parents to the United States and settled in Iowa, first in Oskaloosa and later in Des Moines, where his father became an investment banker. He received his A.B. and A.M. from Oskaloosa’s Penn College in 1880 and 1883, respectively, and his M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1884. He spent the next two years studying medicine at the universities of London, Oxford, Vienna, and Berlin....

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McClennan, Alonzo Clifton (01 May 1855–04 October 1912), black physician and professional leader, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, the orphaned son of unknown parents. As with many African Americans of the post–Civil War era, it was Reconstruction that gave McClennan a chance at larger life. In 1872, at the height of the movement in South Carolina (and thanks to the influence of a guardian-uncle), he became a page in the black-dominated state senate. There he won the notice and friendship of influential legislator ...