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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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Bagley, Sarah George (29 April 1806–?), millworker, reformer, and physician, was born in Candia, New Hampshire, the daughter of Nathan Bagley and Rhoda Witham, farmers.

Bagley grew up in a family whose economic situation became increasingly precarious during the course of the nineteenth century. Nathan Bagley originally farmed land in Candia, which he had inherited from his father, but he later moved on to farming land in Gilford, New Hampshire. After losing litigation in 1822, he sold his land in Gilford and eventually moved to Meredith Bridge, New Hampshire (now Laconia), where he became an incorporator of the Strafford Cotton Mill Company in 1833. However, Nathan Bagley did not own a home after 1824; it was Sarah Bagley who made the down payment on a house for her family in Meredith Bridge in the 1840s. She probably used money she had saved during her stints as a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts....

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Chapin, Henry Dwight (04 February 1857–27 June 1942), physician, was born in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of the Reverend Henry Barton Chapin, a Presbyterian minister, and Harriet Ann Smith. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1877 and studied medicine with a preceptor (possibly Dr. ...

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Donaldson, Mary Elizabeth (12 January 1851–1930), physician and social activist, was born Mary Elizabeth Cracker in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, the daughter of Zachariah Cracker and Elizabeth Delia Brown, farmers. Donaldson grew up in a family strongly dedicated to the Baptist religion and intellectual pursuits. She completed her education through high school, then taught for four years in Reedsburg schools until her 1871 marriage to a man named Hesford. In 1873 Donaldson bore a daughter, who died at age four; soon after the child’s death she and her husband divorced. Following the divorce Donaldson escorted her ailing brother James to Idaho to recuperate. In Idaho she obtained work as a teacher while nursing James to full recovery....

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Ferebee, Dorothy Boulding (10 October 1898–14 September 1980), physician and social reformer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Benjamin Richard Boulding, a superintendent with the railroad mail service, and Florence Cornelia Ruffin, a teacher. She came from a well-established family in which several members were lawyers, but from childhood she wanted to be a physician. When her mother became ill, she went to live with an aunt in Boston, where she attended secondary school. She graduated from two respected Boston institutions, Simmons College in 1920 with honors and Tufts University College of Medicine in 1924. Her accomplishments were especially notable because many educational institutions of the time discriminated against women and minorities. In her class of 137 medical students there were only five women, and, as Ferebee explained, “We women were always the last to get assignments in amphitheaters and clinics. And I? I was the last of the last because not only was I a woman, but a Negro, too” (Carolyn Lewis, “Hard Work Can Topple the Barriers,” ...

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Garcia, Hector Perez (17 January 1914–26 July 1996), physician, community organizer, and civil rights activist, was born 17 January 1914 in Llera, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was the second of nine children born to José and Faustina García, who emigrated to Mercedes, Texas, in 1917. Both of García’s parents were teachers in Mexico before the Mexican Revolution forced the family to flee the country. They instilled in their children the value of education, conducting daily lessons in language, literature, history, and math. In Mercedes Héctor’s father was a small business owner managing a dry-goods store and supporting all of his children through college. Remarkably, six of the García children would complete medical degrees....

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Harrison, Tillson Lever (07 January 1881–10 January 1947), physician, humanitarian, and bigamist, was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, the son of Henry Bailey Harrison, a banker, and Harriett Adele Tillson. Harrison's maternal grandfather was the town's wealthy patriarch, Edwin “E.D.” Tillson, whose company was the precursor of the Quaker Oats Company of Canada. Harrison enjoyed a charmed life, regularly winning prizes at county fairs for excellence in the poultry that he raised on E.D.'s experimental farm. In 1895 Harrison ran away to join the Twenty‐second Oxford Rifles militia, but was returned home when it was discovered that he was underage....

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Lattimore, John Aaron Cicero (23 June 1876?–31 December 1959), physician and civil rights activist, was born near Shelby, Cleveland County, North Carolina, the son of John Carpenter Lattimore and Marcella Hambrick, former slaves and farmers. Lattimore graduated from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an A.B. in 1897. He then attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving his M.D. in 1901. With a fellow classmate, H. B. Beck, as a partner, he began the general practice of medicine in Louisville, Kentucky; after considerable effort, his practice grew. In 1928 he married Naomi Anthony of Louisville; they had no children....

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Clemence Sophia Lozier. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B018108).

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Lozier, Clemence Sophia (11 December 1813–26 April 1888), physician and reformer, was born Clemence Sophia Harned in Plainfield, New Jersey, the daughter of David Harned, a farmer and Methodist, and Hannah Walker, an informal medical practitioner and Quaker. As a child Clemence acquired an interest in medicine from her physician brother and from her mother, who had learned traditional healing practices from American Indians. Her mother, realizing that her daughter had a quick mind, began teaching her healing skills. The lessons ended when her mother died and eleven-year-old Clemence was sent to school at Plainfield Academy....

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Majors, Monroe Alpheus (12 October 1864–10 December 1960), physician, civil rights activist, and writer, was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Andrew Jackson Majors and Jane Barringer. In 1869 his family moved to Austin, Texas. After attending public schools in Austin, Majors studied at West Texas College, Tillotson Normal and Collegiate Institute, Central Tennessee College, and finally Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from which he graduated in 1886....

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Mayo, Sara (26 May 1869–07 March 1930), physician and humanitarian reformer, was born Sara Tew Mayo on a plantation in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, near the town of Vidalia, the daughter of George Spencer Mayo, a lawyer, and Emily Tew. After the death of her parents, Sara spent her early years in New Orleans at the home of her father’s cousin, Judge William Brainerd Spencer. After receiving her primary education in the city’s public schools, she attended Millwood High School in Jackson, a town north of New Orleans close to the Mississippi border. As a child, Sara showed an interest in nursing and medicine by constantly ministering to her dolls and pets. Determined to become a physician, she applied to Tulane University Medical School but was rejected. Undeterred, she left for Philadelphia, where she entered Woman’s Medical College, graduating in 1898. She then returned to New Orleans, where she was to practice medicine for the next thirty-two years....

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McClendon, James Julius (16 March 1898–20 April 1982), physician and civil rights activist, was born in Rome, Georgia, the son of Benjamin McClendon, who died when James was very young, and Louisa Buckner. With the assistance of siblings, he graduated from Atlanta University (1921) and by his own efforts earned an M.D. at Meharry Medical College (1926). He then moved to Detroit, interned at black-owned Dunbar Hospital, and served as a staff member of Hutzel Hospital for nearly fifty years. Assisting patients of all classes, “Doc Mac” never refused treatment to the poor. He cofounded the Fairview Sanatorium and served on several black and white staffs, including those of Parkside and Woman’s Hospital. In 1932 he married college graduate Irene Hunter Scruggs; the couple had two daughters. McClendon actively participated in the Second Street Baptist Church and St. Antoine Street Young Men’s Christian Association....

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Montezuma, Carlos (1866?–31 January 1923), American Indian activist and medical doctor, was born in central Arizona, the son of a Yavapai mother and Yavapai father, both of whom died in his early childhood. At the time of Montezuma’s birth, the Yavapais had not yet been confined to reservations. But their world, an area of perhaps 20,000 square miles, was becoming rapidly enclosed and invaded by Anglo-Americans and other Indian communities. The Yavapai territory in which they gathered the foods of the region and hunted also possessed gold, which attracted miners to the area during this decade....

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Owens-Adair, Bethenia Angelina (07 February 1840–11 September 1926), physician, feminist, and social reformer, was born in Van Buren County, Missouri, the daughter of Thomas Owens and Sarah Damron, farmers. In 1843 the family moved to Oregon’s Clatsop Plains. Fond of the outdoors, Owens preferred helping her father work with horses to doing domestic work. By age eleven, she had received only three months of schooling....

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Potter, Ellen Culver (05 August 1871–09 February 1958), physician, public health administrator, and welfare reformer, was born in New London, Connecticut, the daughter of Thomas Wells Potter, a grocer, and Ellen Culver. Her interest in medicine began in childhood, although as an adolescent she studied art and was interested in social work. After graduating from high school, she studied art in Boston and attended the Art Students League of New York City from 1893 to 1894. Potter worked in the settlement-house movement at the Morning Star Mission in New York City’s Chinatown in 1895–1896 and organized a settlement in Norwich, Connecticut, between 1895 and 1897. She then left to study art and music in Europe (1898–1899)....

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Robbins, Jane Elizabeth (28 December 1860–16 August 1946), settlement house worker and physician, was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the daughter of Richard Austin Robbins, a prosperous seed merchant who was active in the Congregational church and also a member of the Connecticut legislature, and Harriet Welles. Jane Robbins belonged to the first generation of women to graduate from college in significant numbers. After attending Smith College for the 1879–1880 academic year, she worked for five years as a teacher in Kentucky and New Jersey. Partly out of a desire to help the poor, she then decided to become a physician. Even though she had a lifelong loyalty to Smith, she chose to enter the New York Infirmary’s Women’s Medical College in 1887, graduating in 1890. She then interned for a year at the New York Infirmary before setting up a medical practice in the Italian ghetto around New York’s Mulberry Street....

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Benjamin Rush. Engraving by James Barton Longacreof a painting by Thomas Sully. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97104 ).

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Rush, Benjamin (04 January 1746–19 April 1813), physician, professor of chemistry and of medicine, and social reformer, was born in Byberry Township, Pennsylvania, thirteen miles northeast of Philadelphia, the son of John Rush, a farmer and gunsmith, and Susanna Hall Harvey. John Rush died when Benjamin was five years old. His mother ran a grocery store to support the family. She sent Benjamin at age eight to live with an uncle by marriage, the Reverend Dr. ...