Channing, Walter; Bigelow, Jacob; Hayward, George; Webster, John W.; Ware, John

Signatures of 5 notable mid-19th century Harvard Medical School professors, 2 associated with sensational 1849 murder case!

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Description:
Dr. John W. Webster (1793-1850) taught at Harvard Medical College, lecturer of chemistry from 1824, full professor in 1827, publishing chemistry books, lecturing to students, and seeing his annual pay rise from $800 to $1200; a few hundred dollars came from lecture ticket sales at the Massachusetts Medical College. He was in debt to a number of friends, as his salary and meager lecture earnings could not cover his expenses. He borrowed considerably from Dr. George Parkman (1790–1849) a “Boston Brahmin” (term coined in 1860 by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.) from one of the city’s richest families, worth ½-million dollars in 1849. In a sensational case, Webster was tried and found guilty of Parkman’s murder; he was hanged Aug. 30, 1850 after a sensational trial presided over by Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw of the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court. Dr. Jacob Bigelow (1787–1879) Prominent medical doctor, botanist, architect of Cambridge, Mass.’ Mount Auburn Cemetery. Graduated from Harvard College 1806, graduated from Univ. of Pennsylvania medical school 1810. Taught medicine & botany at Harvard and published numerous books, inc. one of America's 1st botanical books, “American Medical Botany”. Rumford Professor 1816-27, endowed at Harvard for purpose of teaching the application of science to the useful arts. His interest in mechanics and non-biological sciences was also shown by his 1829 “Elements of Technology”. Bigelow came to prominence by challenging effectiveness of the therapeutics of the day, publishing “Discourse on Self-Limited Diseases”, in which he attacked physicians' blind allegiance to drugs and medical intervention embodied in heroic practice. After janitor Ephraim Littlefield discovered the charred remains of a body and bloody dirt in a privy and pit in Prof. Webster’s laboratory on Nov. 30, 1849, he ran to the home of Dr. Bigelow, who summoned Marshal Tukey, whose police found additional remains also found to be Parkman’s. Walter Channing (1786-1876) hysician and professor of medicine. Entered Harvard 1804, left in 1807, afterward received his degree out of course. After studying medicine in Boston & Philadelphia, received diploma from Univ. of Pennsylvania, then studied at, and received degree from, the Univ. of Edinburgh. Studied at Guy's and St. Thomas's hospitals in London, began practice in Boston 1812, and in that year became lecturer on obstetrics at Harvard. First Professor of Obstetrics and Medical Jurisprudence at Harvard Univ. (then, Harvard College) 1815-54. Became Dr. James Jackson's assistant as physician of the new Massachusetts General Hospital 1821, continued there for nearly 20 years. He was one of the 1st US physicians to employ anesthesia during childbirth and wrote a treatise in its favor, serving as the main US advocate of the practice at the time. George Hayward (1791-1863) graduated Harvard College 1809, received medical degree at Univ. of Pennsylvania 1812. Professor in Clinical Surgery at Harvard Medical School, one of the 1st surgeons to perform a major operation using general anesthesia. John Ware (1795-1864) Graduated Harvard 1813, Harvard medical degree 1816. When James Jackson asked for an assistant as Hersey Professor of Theory and Practice of Physic, position of Adjunct Professor in his department was given Ware in 1832. Succeeded Jackson as professor 1836-58. In 1828 became editor of the "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal," and for some time, with Walter Channing, conducted the Journal. Both were previously associated with Bigelow, Jackson, and Hayward in the "New England Medical Journal." His articles on "Croup," "Delirium Tremens" and "Hemoptysis," and his "Philosophy of Natural History" were his most important work besides his public lectures. He was visiting physician at Massachusetts General Hospital for many years, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. President of the Massachusetts Medical Society 1848-1852, delivered 1847 annual discourse "Condition and Prospects of the Medical Profession." John Ware Hall at the Boston Medical Library named for him. The Parkman-Webster murder case was a highly publicized crime, investigation, and trial that shook the city of Boston to its core in 1849–50, due to the crime's gruesome nature and the high social station of the victim and murderer. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Dean of Harvard Medical College (who held a post endowed by Parkman), was a prosecution witness. Dental evidence used to identify the body was also heard. Chief Justice Shaw ruled that the jury only needed to find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the corpus delicti was Parkman's; the standard in murder cases then was proof "to an absolute certainty" that the body was that of the victim. The case proved enduring in its impact as the 1st in the US where dental evidence and scientific testimony were accepted in a murder trial. When Charles Dickens visited Boston in 1867, among his first requests was to see the room where Dr. Parkman had been murdered. DS, 3 x 8 fragment of a vellum Harvard Medical School diploma signed in Latin by “Gualterus Channing”, Jacob Bigelow, “Georgius Hayward”, “Johannes W. Webster”, and “Johannes Ware”, Cambridge, Mass., undated but ca. 1840's. Their titles in Latin are written across from their signatures, a fragment of Harvard Medical School’s engraved seal is at upper right corner. With small magazine portraits of Webster & Parkman.

Condition: Very good, light soiling
Type:Signatures






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