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Armsby, James H. (1809-1875)
Armsby, an enthusiastic surgeon, was determined that the doctors and
students of Albany, New York, should have everything necessary to
advance their interests, and he carried out by hard work and persuasion
many of his pet schemes for this end.
Born December 31, 1809, in Sutton, Massachusetts. When twenty he left
the farm and began studying medicine under Dr. Alden March (q.v.) in
After graduating with an M. D. from the Vermont Academy of Medicine in 1833, he
associated himself in Albany with Dr. March as teacher in a "School of
Anatomy and Surgery," a school which had been originated by Dr. March
twelve years before in a garret.
Soon after his arrival in Albany he got up a petition to render
dissections of the human body legal and for the establishment of a
medical college and hospital. In 1838 he delivered a course of popular
lectures illustrated by dissections of the human subject which were
attended by some three hundred of Albany's citizens and brought in
subscriptions for the projected college, erected in 1839, with Dr.
Armsby as professor of surgery and president.
This school founded, he took time from his anatomical studies to advance
the founding of the Albany Hospital and, that accomplished, he lent his
whole energies to those who were interested in obtaining a university, a
design which first met with little encouragement but was finally
realized in 1873.
Even when in Europe he remembered Albany and brought back a rich
collection of models for the college museum, and when United States
Consul at Naples for awhile the Neapolitans had their first experience
of a scientific lecturer. In Albany he was known as an accomplished
operator and surgical lecturer. His profound knowledge of anatomy, his
mechanical dexterity, and his clearness in elucidating every point made
his lectures eagerly sought by students.
He married in 1841, Anna L., daughter of the Hon. Gideon Hawley, and had
two children, the son, Gideon H., becoming a physician. By his second
wife, Sarah Winne, married in 1853, he had one daughter.
His death, which came very unexpectedly December 3, 1875, from pulmonary
congestion and heart disease, deprived Albany of a most devoted citizen
and clever surgeon.
He gave the surgical world an interesting illustrated work, "Photographs
of Pathological Specimens from the United States Isa Harris General
Hospital," two volumes, and a "History of the Albany Qty Hospital."
Trans. Med. Soc. New York, Albany, W. S.
James H. Armsby, M.D., of Albany,
died suddenly, Dec. 8, of pulmonary apoplexy. He was born in Sutton,
Worcester Co., Mass., Dpc. 81, 1309. His early education was derived
from the public school of his native town. In 1830 he entered the office
of the late Prof. March, of Albany, and in 1883 was made the Resident
Physician of the Cholera Hospital, and made the first autopsy in that
institution. While yet a student, he conceived the idea of the
establishment of a hospital and medical college in Albany, and so
successfully devoted his future ciieraic-s in that direction, that they
both became, principally through his instrumentality, accomplished
farts. He graduated in medicine at the Vermont Academy of Medicine in
1833, after which, in connection with his preceptor, he established a
private medical school which school was continued until the foundation
of the medical college in which he took so active a part.
In 1861 he was
appointed U. S. Consul at Naples, a position which he creditably filled.
While there be delivered popular scientific lectures, a practice which
he continued with marked success after his return home. He received the
honorary degree of A.M. from the Rochester University in l^:i(5, and
from Rutgers College in 1841. Prof. Armsby was married in 1841 to Anna
L. Hawley, by whom he had a son and daughter. The wife and daughter dii
din 1841, and riz years later the doctor married Miss Sarah Winne. She
and one son, Gideon, survive him. From the foundation of the Albany
Medical College until his death he was actively engaged as a teacher of
Anatomy and Clinical Surgery. In both these departments lie was signally
successful, and the institution which he was long and so faithfully
served will miss his disintinguished zeal in its welfare, and his wise
counsels in its management.