Monday, February 13, 2012

1854 Medical School Graduation - Amanuensis Monday

Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.

This is another transcription of a document from the papers of Maria Lee Palmer Smith (1844-1931), my husband's great-grandmother. It is a brief letter certifying the year of her late husband's graduation from medical school. Punctuation, format and spelling are retained from the original, though line breaks have been altered.


Jefferson Medical College
Office of the Dean                                 Aug 5 1909

Mrs. F F Smith
       Madame

       Dr. Francis F. Smith graduated in the year 1854

Yours etc

Ross V Patterson
Sub Dean

Notes: Jefferson Medical College was founded in 1824. It is now part of Thomas Jefferson University. According to the University's website "(a)n infirmary to treat the poor was opened in 1824, and by 1844, Jefferson was providing patient beds over a shop at 10th and Sansom Streets." In the years before Smith attended medical advances included the use of anesthesia (1846) and the hypodermic syringe (1851). Smith's class of 270 men was the largest graduated to that date. Speaking at their graduation was the great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Franklin Bache. 

While many of the men who graduated with Smith served in the Civil War, I have not found evidence that Smith was a military surgeon. However, he lived and practiced in Frederick, Maryland throughout the war and surely attended to soldiers wounded at the nearby battles - including Antietam. My mother-in-law speaks of her father (also a doctor) using his father's Civil War surgical tools to carve meat at their dining room table. 

Sources: 
Patterson, (Philadelphia, PA) to Maria L. Smith. Letter. 9 Aug 1909. Privately held. Frederick, MD. Published with permission. 


Frederick B. Wagner, Jr., MD and J. Woodrow Savacool, MD, editors, Thomas Jefferson University - A chronological history and alumni directory, 1824-1990 PDF, Jefferson Digital Commons (http:/www.jdc.jefferson.edu: accessed 13 Feb 2012), Part I: Jefferson Medical College 1846-1854 (pages 55-88).

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