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Alvarez, Walter Clement (1884-1978), physician, medical researcher, and medical columnist  

Clark W. Nelson

Alvarez, Walter Clement (22 July 1884–16 June 1978), physician, medical researcher, and medical columnist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Luis Fernandez Alvarez, a physician, and Clementina Schuetze. When Alvarez was three, his family moved to Hawaii, where his father was a government physician in two isolated Oahu villages. Alvarez was eleven when his father established a Honolulu hospital for lepers and attempted to develop a serum to combat the disease. While assisting his father, Alvarez resolved to become a physician....


Cover Alvarez, Walter Clement (1884-1978)
Walter C. Alvarez. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B029601).


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 ...


Ames, Nathaniel (1708-1764), almanac maker, physician, and innkeeper  

William L. Joyce

Ames, Nathaniel (22 July 1708–11 July 1764), almanac maker, physician, and innkeeper, was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the son of Captain Nathaniel Ames, an astronomer and mathematician, and Susannah Howard. Probably after an apprenticeship with a country doctor, Ames became a doctor. With the likely assistance of his father, in 1725 Ames produced the first almanac to carry his name, though he was a youth of only seventeen. The almanac soon became well known and remained a staple product in New England, appearing annually for a half century....


Bancroft, Edward (1744-1821), physician, scientist, and spy  

Gordon E. Kershaw

Bancroft, Edward (09 January 1744–08 September 1821), physician, scientist, and spy, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Bancroft and Mary Ely, farmers. The elder Bancroft died in 1746 of an epileptic attack suffered in a pigpen, two months before the birth of his younger son, Daniel. His widow married David Bull of Westfield in 1751, and the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Bull operated the Bunch of Grapes tavern. Edward Bancroft was taught for a time by the recent Yale graduate ...


Barrus, Clara (1864-1931), physician and author  

Barbara A. VanBrimmer

Barrus, Clara (08 August 1864–04 April 1931), physician and author, was born in Port Byron, New York, the daughter of John William Barrus, a traveling salesman, and Sarah Randall, a schoolteacher. She began her education at the Port Byron Academy, where three years before her graduation she decided to become a physician. She felt women physicians were scarce and were needed to “treat modest girls who refused treatment from a man” ( ...


Cover Barrus, Clara (1864-1931)

Barrus, Clara (1864-1931)  


Clara Barrus. At Woodchuck Lodge. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103953).


Bennet, Sanford Fillmore (1836-1898), physician and writer of popular verses and hymn texts  

Barbara L. Tischler

Bennet, Sanford Fillmore (21 June 1836–11 June 1898), physician and writer of popular verses and hymn texts, was born in Eden, New York, the son of Robert Bennet and Sally Kent. After spending his early years in New York, Bennet moved with his family to Lake County, Illinois. By the age of eighteen Bennet was teaching school in Wauconda, Illinois. In 1858 he entered the University of Michigan but did not complete a degree there, deciding instead to accept a position as the head of the Richmond, Illinois school district. After his marriage to Gertrude Crosby Johonnatt, Bennet moved to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he became co-owner and editor of the ...


Bruce, Archibald (1777-1818), physician, mineralogist, and editor  

Julie R. Newell

Bruce, Archibald ( February 1777–22 February 1818), physician, mineralogist, and editor, was born in New York City, the son of William Bruce, a British army medical officer, and Judith Bayard Van Rensselaer. Despite his father’s expressed wish, Bruce pursued medical education and practice. After taking an A.B. at Columbia College in 1797, he continued his studies in New York and then moved on to Edinburgh (M.D., 1800). As was common in this period, his medical education included exposure to the natural sciences, and Bruce developed a lifelong interest in mineralogy. After completing his M.D., he extended his European stay with travels on the Continent to study mineralogy and collect materials for his own mineralogical cabinet....


Cover Bruce, Archibald (1777-1818)
Archibald Bruce. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03753).


Church, Benjamin (24 August 1734– January 1778?), physician, poet, and traitor  

Edward W. Hanson

Church, Benjamin (24 August 1734– January 1778?), physician, poet, and traitor, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Benjamin Church, a vendue master, and Hannah Dyer. By 1740 the family had moved to Boston, and in 1750 young Benjamin entered Harvard College. It was at Harvard that Church first developed his writing skills, sharpening his talents through biting satires on his classmates and the professors. After graduating in 1754, Church studied medicine and for several months in 1757 served as surgeon aboard the Massachusetts snow-of-war, the ...


Dale, Thomas (1700-1750), physician, jurist, and poet  

David S. Shields

Dale, Thomas (1700–16 September 1750), physician, jurist, and poet, was born in Hoxton, England, to a gentry family with medical interests. His parents’ names are unknown. He attended Brasenose College, Oxford University, from 1717 to 1720 and in 1721 began study at the University of Leyden, from which he received a medical degree on 23 September 1723 for ...


Darlington, William (1782-1863), physician, botanist, and author  

Charles Boewe

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....


Cover Darlington, William (1782-1863)
William Darlington. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B05853).


Fisher, Rudolph (1897-1934), Harlem Renaissance author and physician  

Michael Maiwald

Fisher, Rudolph (09 May 1897–26 December 1934), Harlem Renaissance author and physician, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of John Wesley Fisher, a clergyman, and Glendora Williamson. Fisher was raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and in 1919 received his B.A. from Brown University, where he studied both English and biology. Fisher’s dual interests, literature and science, were reflected in his achievements at Brown, where he won numerous oratorical contests and was granted departmental honors in biology; the following year he received an M.A. in biology. In 1920 Fisher returned to Washington to attend Howard University Medical School. He graduated with highest honors in June 1924 and interned at Washington’s Freedman’s Hospital. Later that year Fisher married Jane Ryder, a local teacher, with whom he had one son....


Green, Asa (1789-1837), physician and author  

Linda K. Wright

Green, Asa (11 February 1789–1837), physician and author, was born in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Green and Dorothy Hildreth. Green (sometimes spelled “Greene”) entered Williams College at the sophomore level and there earned a “good reputation as a scholar.” It is also at college where he is said to have been “distinguished for wit and vigor of thought,” aspects of which are reflected in his later literary efforts. He received an A.B. from Williams in 1813 and an M.D. from Brown University in 1822 and from the Berkshire Medical Institution in 1827....


Hamilton, Alexander (1712-1756), physician and writer  

Robert Micklus

Hamilton, Alexander (26 September 1712–11 May 1756), physician and writer, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Mary Robertson and William Hamilton, professor of divinity and principal at the University of Edinburgh, where Hamilton received his medical degree in 1737. Following the example of his oldest brother, John, Hamilton emigrated to Maryland in 1738 to establish a medical practice. By the time he died eighteen years later, he was regarded as “the most eminent Physician in Annapolis” (Upton Scott, Howard Family Papers, Maryland His. Soc.). In 1739 Hamilton joined the Ugly Club of Annapolis (the immediate precursor of the Tuesday Club), and in 1743 he was elected common councilman of Annapolis, an office he held until his death. By that time he was suffering from signs of consumption. To improve his health, he spent the summer of 1744 away from the muggy Maryland climate touring the northern colonies. Along the way, he kept a diary of his observations, the ...


Harris, Seale (1870-1957), physician and medical writer and editor  

James A. Pittman

Harris, Seale (13 March 1870–16 March 1957), physician and medical writer and editor, was born in Cedartown, Georgia, the son of Charles Hooks Harris, a medical doctor, and Margaret Ann Monk. Harris received his early education in Cedartown and nearby Marietta, Georgia. During these years he often drove his father’s horse and buggy to the homes of patients, where the majority of his father’s practice occurred. At age nineteen he was rodman on a team of engineers surveying in South Carolina for what became the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Co. During this time Seale received a letter from his brother James, who along with two other brothers offered to lend him money to attend the University of Georgia and then to obtain a medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He finished his two years at Georgia but was frightened away from New York by a cholera scare. He entered the University of Virginia medical school in 1892, living there in a room previously occupied by ...


Holmes, Oliver Wendell (1809-1894), physician, teacher of anatomy, and writer  

The Editors

Holmes, Oliver Wendell (29 August 1809–07 October 1894), physician, teacher of anatomy, and writer, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Abiel Holmes and Sarah Wendell, Abiel’s second wife. A quintessential Boston Brahmin, Oliver was descended on his mother’s side from the old Boston families of Jackson and Quincy and from early Dutch settlers; ...


Cover Holmes, Oliver Wendell (1809-1894)
Oliver Wendell Holmes. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B014846).