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Ames, Nathaniel (1741-1822), almanac writer, physician, and political activist  

Winfred E. A. Bernhard

Ames, Nathaniel (09 October 1741–20 July 1822), almanac writer, physician, and political activist, was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Ames and Deborah Fisher Ames. The senior Nathaniel strongly influenced his son with his deep interest in the “new science” of Isaac Newton and his activities as a physician, tavern proprietor, and compiler of a notable almanac. At sixteen Nathaniel, Jr., entered Harvard College and in January 1758 began to keep a diary. His lively, absorptive mind responded to new ideas, particularly Professor ...


Archer, John (1741-1810), physician, patriot, and public official  

David L. Cowen

Archer, John (05 May 1741–28 September 1810), physician, patriot, and public official, was born in Maryland, either near Brinckley’s Mills, Cecil County, or near the present town of Churchville, Harford County, the son of Thomas Archer, a farmer and ironworks agent, and Elizabeth Stevenson. Archer attended the West Nottingham Academy in Cecil County and the College of New Jersey (Princeton), from which he received the A.B. degree in 1760 and the M.A. in 1763. Thereafter he taught school in Baltimore and studied theology. However, after a second examination by the Presbytery of New Castle, in 1764, the presbytery decided that it “cannot encourage him to prosecute his tryals for the Gospel ministry any further,” and he turned his attention to medicine. He became a pupil of Dr. ...


Baker, Sara Josephine (1873-1945), physician and public health administrator  

Regina Morantz-Sanchez

Baker, Sara Josephine (15 November 1873–22 February 1945), physician and public health administrator, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the daughter of Orlando Daniel Mosher Baker, an eminent lawyer, and Jenny Harwood Brown, one of the first Vassar College graduates. In her autobiography Baker described her father, who came from Quaker stock, as a sober, quiet man who “never uttered an unnecessary word,” while her mother, “gay, social and ambitious,” traced her ancestry back to Samuel Danforth, one of the founders of Harvard College. A happy child, Baker drew inspiration from both parents. Wishing to make it up to her father for not being born a boy, she became an enthusiastic baseball player and trout-fisher and read ...


Cover Baker, Sara Josephine (1873-1945)
S. Josephine Baker. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02220).


Bartlett, Josiah (1729-1795), physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence  

Frank C. Mevers

Bartlett, Josiah (21 November 1729–19 May 1795), physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Bartlett, a shoemaker, and Hannah Webster. Josiah Bartlett attended common school and at the age of sixteen was apprenticed to study medicine under Dr. Nehemiah Ordway of Amesbury. In 1750, seeking to set up his own practice, Bartlett settled in Kingston, New Hampshire, where he won quick acceptance for his fever treatments and his personal manner and demeanor. There, he married Mary Bartlett, a cousin from Newton, New Hampshire. Eight of the couple’s twelve children lived into adulthood....


Beatty, John (1749-1826), physician, army officer, and government official  

Sheldon S. Cohen

Beatty, John (19 December 1749–30 April 1826), physician, army officer, and government official, was born in Warwick, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Clinton Beatty, a Presbyterian minister, and Anne Reading. John attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), where he was one of twenty graduates in the class of 1769. He received an A.M. there three years later. As an undergraduate, he was an original member of the school’s literary club, the American Whig Society. During the interval between his two degree awards, Beatty studied medicine under Dr. ...


Bennett, Alice (1851-1925), physician and hospital administrator  

Constance M. McGovern

Bennett, Alice (31 January 1851–31 May 1925), physician and hospital administrator, was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, the daughter of Isaac Francis Bennett, a blacksmith, and Lydia Hayden. She taught in the district schools of her hometown for four years to earn tuition for medical school, receiving her medical degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1876. Following graduation, Bennett worked at a dispensary in a Philadelphia working-class neighborhood, taught anatomy at her alma mater, and maintained a private medical practice while continuing her study of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1880 she became the first woman to receive a doctor of philosophy degree from that university....


Berkman, Alan (4 Sept. 1945–5 June 2009), global AIDS activist, physician, and political prisoner  

Susan Reverby

Berkman, Alan (4 Sept. 1945–5 June 2009), global AIDS activist, physician, and political prisoner, was born in Brooklyn, New York as the second of four sons of Sam Berkman, a plumbing supply store owner, and Mona Osit Berkman, a homemaker.

Raised in the small upstate New York town of Middletown during the cold war and after the Holocaust, Berkman expected to meld his intellectual and physical prowess to bring pride to his family, the Jewish community, and country. His classmates at Middletown High School voted him “the boy most likely to succeed” when he graduated in ...


Biggs, Hermann Michael (1859-1923), pathologist, bacteriologist, physician, and public health official  

Howard Markel

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....


Blackburn, Luke Pryor (1816-1887), physician and governor of Kentucky  

Nancy Disher Baird

Blackburn, Luke Pryor (16 June 1816–14 September 1887), physician and governor of Kentucky, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, the son of Edward Blackburn and Lavinia Bell, farmers. He graduated from Transylvania University’s medical department in 1835, married Ella Gist Boswell of Lexington a few months later, and practiced medicine in Woodford and adjoining counties....


Cover Blackburn, Luke Pryor (1816-1887)
Luke Pryor Blackburn. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02991).


Blunt, James Gillpatrick (1826-1881), physician, soldier, and politician  

Thomas W. Cutrer

Blunt, James Gillpatrick (21 July 1826–25 July 1881), physician, soldier, and politician, was born in Trenton, Hancock County, Maine, the son of John Blunt. Blunt spent his early youth in Ellsworth, Maine, but at age fifteen enlisted as a merchant seaman. Leaving the sea at age twenty, Blunt studied medicine at the Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio, earning a medical degree in 1849. He set up a practice in New Madison, Ohio, where he married Nancy Carson Putnam. In 1856 he migrated to the frontier, settling at Greeley, Kansas. There he continued his medical practice but soon became actively interested in politics, becoming deeply involved in the antislavery movement and aiding ...


Boswell, Henry (1884-1957), physician and tuberculosis sanatorium administrator  

Jon M. Harkness

Boswell, Henry (26 March 1884–16 December 1957), physician and tuberculosis sanatorium administrator, was born in Hinton, Alabama, the son of John Boswell and Georgianna Neal. Nothing is known of his parents’ occupations. Boswell grew up in Choctaw County, in west central Alabama, attending grade school in Hinton and public high school in nearby Rock Springs. He moved north to Tennessee to seek a medical education at the University of Nashville, from which he received an M.D. in 1908. After graduation, he held a brief internship at the Nashville General Hospital before accepting a position as house surgeon at Providence Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, where he worked until late 1909....


Cover Boswell, Henry (1884-1957)
Henry Boswell. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03302).


Brigham, Amariah (1798-1849), physician and asylum superintendent  

Constance M. McGovern

Brigham, Amariah (26 December 1798–08 September 1849), physician and asylum superintendent, was born in New Marlboro, Massachusetts, the son of John Brigham and Phoebe Clark, farmers. Orphaned at the age of eleven, Brigham spent ten months with his uncle, a doctor in upstate New York, before his uncle, too, died. Undaunted, Brigham found work as a clerk in a bookstore and later as a teacher in the local schools of Albany. He prepared himself for the medical profession by studying with doctors in his hometown and in Canaan, Connecticut, and by attending one term of lectures in New York City....


Brooke, Abraham (1806-1867), physician and radical reformer  

Thomas D. Hamm

Brooke, Abraham (1806–08 March 1867), physician and radical reformer, was born at Sandy Spring, Maryland, the son of Samuel Brooke and Sarah Garrigues, farmers. The Brooke family had been leading Quakers in Maryland for several generations, and Abraham attended Quaker schools at Sandy Spring before entering medical college in Baltimore. In 1829 he married Elizabeth Lukens, a fellow Quaker from Sandy Spring; they had three children. When the Hicksite-Orthodox schism took place among Quakers, the Brookes, like most Maryland Friends, sided with the Hicksite group....


Brownson, Nathan (1742-1796), physician and politician  

Edward J. Cashin

Brownson, Nathan (14 May 1742–18 October 1796), physician and politician, was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Brownson and Abigail Jenner. He graduated from Yale College in 1761 and practiced medicine in his hometown. In 1769 he married Elizabeth Lewis. The couple moved to St. John Parish, Georgia, in 1774 and began working a 500-acre plantation. Brownson’s wife died in 1775, and the following year he married Elizabeth McLean, with whom he had two children....


Bundesen, Herman Niels (1882-1960), physician, author, and politician  

Roger Biles

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....


Cover Bundesen, Herman Niels (1882-1960)
Herman N. Bundesen. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03896).


Burnet, William (1730-1791), physician, judge, and member of the Continental Congress  

Maxine N. Lurie

Burnet, William (02 December 1730–07 October 1791), physician, judge, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in Lyon’s Farms, a town located between Newark and Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the son of Ichabod Burnet, a physician who emigrated from Scotland, and Hannah (maiden name unknown). He was educated at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) when it was located in Newark under Rev. ...