American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

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 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier

 

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George Bacon Wood, M.D.

See the book for Dr. Woods in this collection

WOOD, George Bacon, author, born in Greenwich, Cumberland County, New Jersey, 13 March, 1797; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 March, 1879.  He received his early education in the city of New York, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1815, and in medicine in 1818, and in 1820 delivered a course of lectures on chemistry in Philadelphia. He was professor of chemistry in the Philadelphia college of pharmacy in 1822-'31, of Materia Medica in 1831-'5, held the same chair in the University of Pennsylvania in 1835-'50, and that of the theory and practice of medicine in that institution from 1850 till 1860, when he resigned. He was eminently successful as a lecturer, and while in the chair of Materia Medica exhibited to the students many specimens of rare living tropical and other exotics, which he had secured at great expense, and of which he had occasion to treat in his lectures. In 1865 he endowed an auxiliary faculty of medicine in the University of Pennsylvania composed of five chairs--zoology and comparative anatomy, botany, mineralogy and geology, hygiene, and medical jurisprudence and toxicology--and by will he endowed the Peter Hahn ward of the University hospital. He was physician in the Pennsylvania hospital in 1835-'59, became president of the American philosophical society in 1859, and was for many years president of the College of physicians of Philadelphia. With Franklin Bache, M. D., he published "The Dispensatory of the United States" (Philadelphia, 1833). Of this work 150,000 copies were sold during Dr. Wood's lifetime, the royalty to the authors being about $155,000. He also published "A Treatise on the Practice of Medicine" (2 vols., 184';); " A Treatise on Therapeutics and Pharmacology, or Materia Medica" (2 vols., 1856) ; "Introductory Lectures and Addresses on Medical Subjects" (1859).

GEORGE B. WOOD, M.D., 1797-1879.

BY JOHN H. PACKARD, M.D.

In the great drama of life, wherein we are all struggling—more or less successfully—with the difficulties of our parts, there are constantly exits and entrances of new players. The untried men, who are only putting on the harness, and those who are fairly on the stage, may well pause a moment at the final exit of one who has long and well sustained a prominent part, not only to pay their tribute to his merits, but to learn what lessons they may, and to take what encouragement they can, from his career.

Dr. George B. Wood, the subject of this memoir, was born in Greenwich, Cumberland County, X. J., on the 12th of March, 1797. He was of English descent, the founder of the family in this country having come over from Bristol, England, in 1682, at the time of William Penn's second visit.

His father was a well-to-do farmer and land owner, who had the good sense to accede to the earnest wish of this, his eldest son, for a liberal education. The son, at the early age of 12 years, bugged to be thus provided, the cost to be deducted from his share of the family estate. He was, therefore, sent to New York to school, and thence to the University of Pennsylvania, where he took his degree in arts in 1815, and in medicine in 1818. His professional studies were pursued under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Parrish, an eminent practitioner of the time.

Upon taking his degree. Dr. Wood engaged at once in teaching. In this he was so successful, that upon the establishment of a school of pharmacy, he was early made Professor of Chemistry; the first appointee, Dr. Gerard Troost, lecturing but one year. After holding this chair for ten years, Dr. Wood was, in 1831| transferred to that of Materia Medica and Pharmacy; which he filled ably until 1835, when he was elected to the professorship of Materia Medica and Therapeutics in the University of Pennsylvania. In 1850, he was again transferred to the Chair of Practice of Medicine in the same school, having the honor to succeed the distinguished Dr. Nathaniel Chapman; and here he remained until his resignation in 1860.

Besides these positions, he held that of Physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital, from 1835 to 1859. It will therefore be seen that he was, for the long period of forty-two years, continuously engaged in teaching medicine and cognate branches of science. During almost all this time, until about Is54, he had very large classes of private pupils; his success in this respect being fully equal to, and in part dependent upon, the excellence of his more public services.

As a lecturer, Dr. Wood was singularly clear, forcible, and instructive. Whether in his chair at the University, or in his clinics at the Hospital, he never failed to secure the attention of his classes, nor to give them the full benefit of the science of the day, with all the illustrations at his command. As a private teacher, he was faithful and exacting, punctual in all his appointments, and warmly interested in the welfare of his pupils.

During all this time,
Dr. Wood was actively engaged as an author. He is perhaps most widely known from his connection with the United States Dispensatory, in which he was aided by the late Dr. Franklin Bache until the death of the latter, in 1864. His " Practice of Medicine," and his "Therapeutics and Pharmacology," had in their day a most authoritative position among works on those subjects. He took also an active part in the preparation and in many of the revisions of the United States Pharmacopoeia. Besides these heavier labors he wrote a large number of introductory lectures and occasional addresses, and left a somewhat voluminous collection of manuscript productions of varied character.

In the earlier years of the American Medical Association, Dr. Wood took an active interest in the affairs of that body, presiding over it at its meeting held in this city in 1855. He was, from 1835 until the time of his death, President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and had been for many years President of the

American Philosophical Society. He was also long a Manager of the Philadelphia Dispensatory, and from November 3,1863, a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.

Perhaps, it is scarcely necessary to offer any comment upon this record, meagre as it is, of the active years of work of our deceased fellow-member. From the time when, as a boy of twelve, he began to qualify himself for the carrying out of the aspirations which he felt stirring within him, until at sixty-three he resigned the Chair of Practice in the University, he was ever engaged in labors honorable to himself and beneficial to others. It was by a blameless life of incessant and useful industry that he attained the eminence which was freely accorded to him.

It was not from failure of power, either physical or mental, that Dr. Wood retired from the more active public services in which he had spent so much of his life; it was in accordance with a view he had long entertained, that a man should not wait for manifest signs of decay before resigning his tasks to abler hands. He knew that before long his advancing years would impair the tone of his teaching, and the value of his ministrations to his patients. He, therefore, voluntarily withdrew from the active positions which he held, lest he should, by retaining them too long, become a drag upon the institutions which it had been his pride to serve.

Dr. Wood was a man of singular personal dignity ; his manners were in a high degree calm and self-possessed, so much so that he seemed to strangers to be cold and haughty. But he was a true and loyal friend; his views of truth and right were as clear as his conduct was unswerving in pursuance of them; and those who knew him well could testify not only to the purity of his private life and conversation, but also to his uniform and generous consideration of those about him.

No sketch of Dr. Wood's life would be complete, even in outline, without mention of his liberality. His means were ample, his wife being the only child of wealthy parents, and his professional labors yielding him verj' handsome pecuniary returns. To charitable institutions he was a constant and free contributor; he endowed the Auxiliary Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania; at his expense the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia has been for many years, and still is, open daily for the use of the profession; and through many other public channels he strove to make the bounty of Providence to him a benefit to his fellow-man. In this connection should be mentioned also the generous remembrance, in his will, of the College of Physicians, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Hospital of the latter institution. The College of Physicians receives a large number of his books, and a sum of $10,000 for the keeping open of the Library, besides the release of an obligation amounting to about $5000. To the University he bequeathed the museum procured by him at a very large expense (about $20,000) for the illustration of his lectures, besides his collection of medical plants. A striking feature of his noble gift of $75,000 to the Hospital attached to the school is the condition of the establishment and maintenance of a ward, to bear, not his own name, but that of his father-in-law, Mr. Peter Halm, for whom he ever had a profound respect. Of Dr. Wood's private charities only enough is known to enable me to assert that he never failed to respond to any appeal from a deserving source; and when he gave, he did it not only freely, but delicately.
___________________

George Bacon Wood, M.D., author, born in Greenwich, Cumberland County, New Jersey, 13 March, 1797; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 March, 1879. He received his early education in the city of New York, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1815, and in medicine in 1818, and in 1820 delivered a course of lectures on chemistry in Philadelphia. He was professor of chemistry in the Philadelphia college of pharmacy in 1822-'31, of materia medica in 1831-'5, held the same chair in the University of Pennsylvania in 1835-'50, and that of the theory and practice of medicine in that institution from 1850 till 1860, when he resigned. He was eminently successful as a lecturer, and while in the chair of materia medica exhibited to the students many specimens of rare living tropical and other exotics, which he had secured at great expense, and of which he had occasion to treat in his lectures. In 1865 he endowed an auxiliary faculty of medicine in the University of Pennsylvania composed of five chairs--zoology and comparative anatomy, botany, mineralogy and geology, hygiene, and medical jurisprudence and toxicology--and by will he endowed the Peter Hahn ward of the University hospital. He was physician in the Pennsylvania hospital in 1835-'59, became president of the American philosophical society in 1859, and was for many years president of the College of physicians of Philadelphia. With Franklin Bache, M. D., he published "The Dispensatory of the United States" (Philadelphia, 1833). Of this work 150,000 copies were sold during Dr. Wood's lifetime, the royalty to the authors being about $155,000.

He also published "A Treatise on the Practice of Medicine" (2 vols., 184';); " A Treatise on Therapeutics and Pharmacology, or Materia Medica" (2 vols., 1856) ; "Introductory Lectures and Addresses on Medical Subjects" (1859); and, of lesser works, " History of the University of Pennsylvania" (Philadelphia, 1827) ; "Memoir of Samuel G. Morton" (1853) ; and "Memoirs of Franklin Bache" (1865).  From Famous Americans.


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

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016