American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier


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 James A. Meigs, M.D.

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James Aitkin Meigs was born in Philadelphia, July 31, 1829, ot English and Scotch ancestry, on his father's, and of Scotch and German ancestry upon his mother's, side. His early education was obtained at public schools and he received the degree of A. B. in 1848, from the Central High School of Philadelphia.

In April, 1848, he commenced his medical studies and in October matriculated at Jefferson College, from which he was graduated in 1851.

He was for many years assistant to Dr. Francis Gurney Smith, while Professor of Physiology in the Pennsylvania College, and engaged in the preparation of students for graduation. In September, 1854, he was appointed Professor of Climatology and Physiology in the Franklin Institute, and continued in this position eight years. In 1855, he was elected one of the physicians to the Howard Hospital and served as such for thirteen years. In 1857, he was made Professor of the Institutes of Medicine, Philadelphia Medical College, and continued as such until April 1850, when he was transferred to same chair in the, now defunct, Pennsylvania College. In 1859, he was physician and clinical lecturer at Philadelphia Hospital, Blockley.

In 1866, he was appointed to lecture in the spring course of lectures at Jefferson Medical College and, in June 1868, on the resignation of Dr. Dunglison, he was elected Professor of the Institutes of Medicine and Medical Jurisprudence, in the same institution.

He was elected in 1868 to the Medical Staff, and continued in the position until his death, in 1879.

He was President (1871) of the County Medical Society, and Secretary of the Academy of Natural Sciences. He was a Fellow of the College of Physicians, of the American Medical Association ; and also of a number of foreign scientific societies.

When a student of medicine and after graduation, he contributed to the Medical Examiner, clinical reports from Jefferson Medical College and from the clinical service of the Pennsylvania Hospital, and discussions of the County Medical Society and papers on mortuary statistics of Philadelphia. In 1855^ in Journal of Franklin Institute, he published an article on the physiology of stammering and its treatment by mechanical means. In 1856, he prepared the first American edition of Carpenter's work upon the microscope. In 1857, he edited an edition of Kirke's Manual of Physiology. He published a paper on " Hints to Craniographers upon the Importance and Feasibility of Establishing some Uniform System by which the Collection and Promulgation of Craniological Statistics, and the Exchange of Duplicate Crania, may be Promoted " ; also a paper on " Correlation of the Vital and Physical Forces."

On December 18,1855, he prepared a descriptive catalogue of the Human Crania, which formed the "Samuel G. Morton Collection " at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. In the journal of the "Academy," 1855, is a paper by him on the " Relation of Atomic Heat to Crystalline Forms." In 1859, he presented a paper on the " Description of a Deformed Fragmentary Skull found in an ancient Quarry Cave at Jerusalem, with an attempt to determine by its configuration alone, the Ethnical Type to which it belongs," which was published, as were his "Observations upon the Form of the Occiput of the Various Races of Men." His paper on Observation upon the Cranial Forms of the American Aborigines, based upon Specimens Contained in the Morton Collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, was also published in the Proceedings of the Academy. He also contributed a valuable paper upon the same topic to Nott & Gliddon's, " Types of Mankind." He delivered the address on laying the corner'stone of the new edifice of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, October 30. 1862.

He died November 9, 1879, aged fifty years.


MEIGS, JAMES AITKEN, Philadelphia, was born in Philadelphia, July 3ist, 1829, of English and Scotch ancestry on his father's side, and Scotch and German through his mother. Having received his primary education from private tutors, he entered, in 1843, the Mount Vernon grammar school, from which, after ptlaining the required proficiency, he passed to the Central high schojl of Philadelphia, from which he was graduated in Fell., 1848, beginning in April of that year the study of medicine in the ónice of Drs. F. G. Smith and J. M. Allen, his studies under whom he supplemented by attending a course of lectures on various medical subjects in the school of anatomy, after which, in October of the same year, he was matriculated in Jefferson med. coll., from which he Ğms graduated in March, 1851, receiving at the same time the. certificate annually conferred by the corps of lecturers of the Philadelphia asso. for medical instruction on those students who passed sue- I cessfully the examinations upon the lectures-l delivered by the association. The subject of I his thesis on the occasion of his graduation was " The Hygiene and Therapeutics of Temperament." He began practice in his native city, where he has since pursued it. For several years he acted as assistant to the prof, of in the Pa. coll., and engaged in the examination and preparation of students for graduation. In 1854 he delivered, by appointment, the semi-annual address before the alumni asso. of the Central high school, the address being published by a committee of the association. In September of the same year he was appointed lecturer on climatology and physiology at the Franklin institute for the promotion of the mechanic arts, holding the position for eight years, during which he also lectured frequently on physiological and ethnological subjects at the different mechanics' institutes in Philadelphia, and before various literary associations in neighboring cities. In 1855 he was elected physician to the dep't of diseases of the chest in the Howard hosp. and infirmary for incurables, a position which he filled thirteen years. In the following year he became librarian of the acad. of natural sciences of Philadelphia, the duties of which office he discharged for several years until increasing professional duties compelled him to resign it. In 1857, by invitation of the faculty and board of corporators of the Philadelphia coll. of med., he accepted the chair of institutes of medicine in th.U institution, and continued to occupy it until April, 1859, when he was transferred to the professorship of institutes In the meJ. dc;>4 of Pa. coll., previously held by Prof. F. G. Smith, for whom the chair was originally created by the trustees of the parent institution at Gettysburg. While in the latter school he delivered two systematic courses of lectures on physiology, illustrating them with an extensive series of vivisectal demonstrations, which attracted much attention at the time, as no sustained, systematic effort to teach physiology experimentally had been made before in either of the four medical schools then existing in Philadelphia. In Nov., 1859, while still connected with the Pa. coll., he was elected by the board of guardians consult, phys. and clinical lecturer to the Philadelphia hosp. at Blockley. On the breaking out of the civil war in 1861, he, in company with his colleagues, resigned from the Pa. coll., and for a number of years following devoted himself exclusively to medical and obstetric practice. In 1866, a spring course of lectures having been established by the faculty of Jefferson coll., with the object of ex'ending the facilities of instruction so as practically to lengthen the regular winter course, he delivered in this special course, at the request of the faculty, a series of lectures on the physiology and pathology of the blood and circulation. In June, 1868, on the resignation of the late Prof. Kobley Dnnglison, he was elected, by the board of trustees of Jefferson med. coll., prof, of the institutes of medicine and med. jurisprudence, his application for the chair having been supported by the medical profession of Philadelphia, and recommended in letters addressed to the board by Prof. Henry, of the Smithsonian institution ; the late Dr. J. C. Nott, of Mobile; Profs. Wilson, of Toronto ; Owen, of the British museum; Turner, of the univ. of Edinburgh; Broca, of the acad. of medicine of Paris ; Von Hüben, of the Carolinska institute of Stockholm; Primer-Bey, of Cairo; and other distinguished physicians and scientists of America and Europe. In August of the same year the board of managers of the Pa. hosp. chose him without the canvass one of the physicians to that institution. These two positions he still fills, lie is a member of the Philadelphia со. med. soc., of which he was elected recording secretary in 1857 ; and a year later corresponding secretary, to which latter office he was twice reëlected, becoming in 1867, moreover, one of the vice-presidents, and in 1871 the president; the Franklin institute; the acad. of natural sciences; the coll. of phys. ; the State med. soc. of Pa., and the Am. met!, asso., in both of which his membership is permanent ; the State historical soc. of Wis. ; the biological dep't of the acad. of natural sciences; the Am. asso. for the a<l1867 elected first vice-president of the Am. met!, asso. In 1873 elected by the medical editors of the U. S. president of the Am. asso. ot medical editors. In 1874 elected president of the Am. med. asso. His contributions to medicine are principally contained in the journal before mentioned, where he was never negative but definitely aggressive or defensive concerning all things pertaining to his profession during twenty-five years. In 1876 appointed by the International med. congress one ol the executive committee of the State of Tennessee.  Upon retiring from the Medical Journal in 1875, his publisher said of him in his paper that " Dr. howling had never kept the printer waiting for copy or money," and the greatest living medical critic is his journal said of him — "A man of genius as well as learning, of the true poetic temperament, he has written some of the most brilliant articles in our medical annais." In 1837 he married Mrs. Melissa Cheatham nit Melissa Saunders.

(The personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

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Civil War Medical Collections 


Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
Medical Lecture Cards: 1 | 2 | 34 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21    INDEX

Medical Faculty and Authors:


Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

Surgeon CDVs, Images:

Army: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8    INDEX

Navy: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   

Hosp Dep't Bottles, Tins, 

U.S. Army Pannier:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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