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Atkinson, William Biddle (21 June 1832–23 November 1909), obstetrician and medical biographer, was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the son of Isaac Sleeper Atkinson and Mary Reese Biddle. Atkinson began his medical studies in 1850 under the preceptorship of Samuel McClellan, who was probably influential in Atkinson’s choice of a medical specialty and certainly influential in his later appointment to the Pennsylvania Medical College. Atkinson completed his medical training in 1853 after three courses of lectures at the Jefferson Medical College. For several years after graduation he devoted part of his time to teaching classics and mathematics in Philadelphia and part to his medical practice. It was during this period that Atkinson began a lifelong involvement as the correspondent or editor of various medical periodicals....

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Richard Maurice Bucke. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98116).

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Bucke, Richard Maurice (18 March 1837–19 February 1902), psychiatrist and biographer, was born in Methwold, County of Norfolk, England, the son of Reverend Horatio Walpole Bucke, a Church of England curate and a direct descendant of Sir Robert Walpole, the renowned prime minister of England. (His mother’s name has been recorded as Clarissa Andrews, but that cannot be confirmed.) Within a year of his birth, Bucke’s parents emigrated to Upper Canada, settling on a farm near London, Ontario. His father, a classical scholar and linguist, brought to Canada a library of five or six thousand books in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Bucke and his six siblings received their schooling at home....

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William Darlington. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B05853).

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Darlington, William (28 April 1782–23 April 1863), physician, botanist, and author, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward Darlington, a farmer who also found time to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature, and Hannah Townsend. Wanting to escape the drudgery of farm work that had restricted his schooling to a few winter months each year, at age eighteen Darlington persuaded his father to pay the necessary fees for his apprenticeship to study medicine with John Vaughan in Wilmington, Delaware. In return, his father required that he give up his inheritance of a share of the family farm....

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Daniel M. Fox and Marcia L. Meldrum

de Kruif, Paul Henry (02 March 1890–28 February 1971), bacteriologist and writer, was born in Zeeland, Michigan, the son of Hendrik de Kruif, a farm-equipment dealer, and Hendrika Kremer. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, he read an article about Paul Ehrlich, the German bacteriologist and Nobel laureate, which he credited with inspiring him to become a “microbe hunter.” He received his B.S. degree in 1912 and remained at Michigan as a Rockefeller research fellow, working with ...

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Howard Atwood Kelly. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Kelly, Howard Atwood (20 February 1858–12 January 1943), surgeon, gynecologist, and medical biographer, was born in Camden, New Jersey, the son of Henry Kuhl Kelly, a prosperous sugar broker, and Louise Warner Hard, the daughter of an Episcopal clergyman. During his youth, Kelly’s mother instilled in him a love of the Bible and the natural sciences. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving the A.B. in 1877. Kelly originally intended to become a naturalist, but his father persuaded him to study medicine so that he would have a more secure income. In 1882 he received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He then served sixteen months as resident physician at the Episcopal Hospital in Kensington, a Philadelphia suburb with many poor. In 1883, upon completion of his internship, Kelly established a two-room “hospital,” which by 1887 evolved into the Kensington Hospital for Women and was supported by voluntary contributions. In 1888 Kelly performed the first caesarean section in Philadelphia in fifty years in which the mother survived. Among his colleagues this did much to enhance his reputation as a bold and skillful surgeon. During the year 1888–1889 he served as associate professor of obstetrics at the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania....