William J. Conor, M.D.

U.S. Navy Assistant Surgeon Application


By Norman L. Herman, M.D., PhD.

The following is a dictated translation of the hand-written application to the U. S. Navy Examination Board during the Civil War by a civilian physician/surgeon for a position as a medical officer in the Federal Navy or for promotion to Assistant Surgeon by an Acting Assistant Surgeon.  The actual applications are in the possession of the author and presented to enlighten the general public and other researchers as to the education process before and during the Civil War, the personal history of the applicants, as well as to show their personal level of medical knowledge in answering the questions asked by the Navy Board of Examiners.  (Some applicants failed to pass and did not serve or served in the Union Army.)

This written presentation was first of a part of a two-part exam consisting of a written exam and an oral exam.   Many of these applications are rich with highly detailed medical content offering an interesting perspective on the medical knowledge and practices of the period.  A broad sampling of these exams is presented to give you a 'picture' of the type of applicant being examined and admitted to or rejected by the Federal Navy in 1863.   Much more detail on the individuals and their personal and naval history will be presented in a forth-coming book by Dr. Herman.

(The actual written exam photos are available, but not presented on these pages due to the size of the files.  An example of a hand-written exam is on the 'List of all Applicants' page)

If you have additional information or images for any of these doctors, please contact us.

A list with links to all applicants in this survey of U.S. Navy Applicants for 1863

Example of a handwritten exam given by the Navy Examination Board


Applicant: William J. Conor, M.D.


I was born at Toronto, Canada West on the twelfth day of April in the year eighteen hundred and forty one.


My preliminary education was principally furnished at the Upper Canada College of Toronto.  I studied all the branches taught in the institution; of Latin not beyond Sallust’s Cataline [sic, should read “Catiline”] and Jugurtha, of Greek, the Grammar and ordinary exercises; of French, the grammar, and reader used in that institution.  I studied geometry, Algebra, and the ordinary rules of Arithmetic.    Subsequently I studied Botany and Zoology at the University of McGill Montreal C.E. and passed the examinations therin [sic].


I have been engaged in the study of Medicine three years and two months.  When not attendant upon lectures I study with Doctor P. Tertius Kempson of Canada West during the three years, and with whom I obtained a considerable knowledge of pharmacy, the physical properties of drugs, and practice of medicine.     I also obtained a knowledge of Surgery and practice of medicine to some extent in the Montreal general Hospital.


 I am a graduate of the Jefferson Medical College Philadelphia.


William J. Conor.


My address is No. 121 South tenth street.  Philadelphia


Application incomplete...

A list with links to all applicants in this survey of U.S. Navy Applicants for 1863

Example of a handwritten exam given by the Navy Examination Board