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Medicine in Kentucky

Medicine in Kentucky

Copyright Date: 1977
Edition: 1
Pages: 114
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  • Book Info
    Medicine in Kentucky
    Book Description:

    In this informed and entertaining essay, John H. Ellis describes the efforts of physicians and laymen to keep illness at bay during Kentucky's first 200 years.Medicine in Kentuckyis part of the Kentucky Bicentennial Bookshelf, "a celebration of two centuries of the history and culture of The Commonwealth."

    John H. Ellis outlines the practice and development of medicine in Kentucky from the state of medical practices during the colonial era and the paucity of trained practitioners, to the frontier doctors of the early days of Westward expansion, to the founding of the first medical school chartered in the West, Transylvania University.

    Ellis also details some of the commonly encountered diseases, the various types of practitioners (allopaths, herb doctors, Thomsonians, and homeopaths), and the various, generally short-lived publications and medical societies of nineteenth century Kentucky. He highlights two native Kentuckians, Joseph Nathaniel McCormack, principal architect of the current structure of the AMA, and Abraham Flexner, whose "Medical Education in the United States and Canada" is one of the great landmarks in the field, whether one feels that he laid the foundation for modern scientific medical education or merely set in concrete nineteenth century scientism as the basis for medical education.

    Although dealing principally with Kentucky medicine, it reflects also on the happenings in medicine across the country.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5037-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. 1-7)

    The beginnings of Kentucky medicine are to be found in the movement of colonial culture to the western frontier during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. This culture embraced traditions regarding disease, self-treatment, the physician, and medical practice, although evidences of an American medical profession as such, influenced to any appreciable extent by currents in European medical thought, did not appear until about the time of the Revolution. By way of setting the stage for later developments, a brief survey of the cultural background and its early movement to Kentucky is in order.

    Among many prospects early settlers thought...

    (pp. 8-22)

    In 1780 the Virginia General Assembly placed 8,000 acres of land confiscated from Loyalists under the control of trustees of a “seminary of learning” for the Kentucky district. Three years later the assembly formally named the institution Transylvania Seminary. For years there was constant controversy over the land and control of the school between rival interests having to do with Federalist-Republican politics and Presbyterian-Baptist denominational strife. Finally, in 1798, the Kentucky General Assembly commanded the peace, designated Lexington as the school’s location, and renamed it Transylvania University. One of the first acts of new trustees in 1799 was to create...

    (pp. 23-38)

    Romantic versions of the American frontier experience present a picture of hardy pioneers and robust, healthy farmers. But these nostalgic images of the past tend to conceal the real hardships of daily life, among which illness was one of the most common, during the settlement and growth of Kentucky in the nineteenth century. From the earliest times infectious diseases such as mumps, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and, occasionally, smallpox, appeared on farms and in villages and towns. Some of them, especially diphtheria, took an awesome toll of life until well into the twentieth century. Pulmonary phthisis, or tuberculosis,...

    (pp. 39-50)

    Kentucky medical publications in the nineteenth century, excluding a large body of purely scientific and technical literature, played an important role in bringing some knowledge of medicine to the layman and in serving as media for professional communication. Certain books were well received by the reading public and brought their authors profitable returns. Medical journals were also commercial enterprises, being owned and operated by their editors who were usually members of medical school faculties. As such the journals tended to be personal vehicles and partisans of their editors’ schools as well as forums for medical thought and debate.

    The first...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 51-63)

    No two men have had an impact on the American medical profession and its institutions comparable to that of two Kentuckians, one a physician and the other a schoolteacher. Born on a Nelson County farm November 9, 1847, Joseph Nathaniel McCormack was mostly self-taught as a boy, learning while working with his brothers and their farmer-storekeeper father. After graduating from the Miami Medical College of Ohio in 1870, he returned to Nelson County, married, and began the practice of medicine. McCormack encountered difficulties, however, including a severe illness with typhoid fever, and in 1876 he moved to Bowling Green in...

    (pp. 64-75)

    Back in 1881, in his presidential address before the Kentucky State Medical Society in Covington, Dr. Lyman B. Todd of Lexington urged doctors to provide “that security which humanity demands” from preventable disease. The scene he envisioned in every community was one in which physicians, as friends and teachers, gathered families around each hearth-stone to explain the principles of hygiene. As a result, “thousands of lives, now annually doomed to destruction, would be saved, and the health and comfort of the people greatly increased and secured.”¹

    Forty years later, despite some evidence of progress, the need for private practice of...

    (pp. 76-82)

    The overwhelming quantities of source materials and the necessarily short-range perspectives on contemporary events make an appraisal of developments in Kentucky medicine since 1945 exceedingly difficult. It may be said with confidence, however, that during the past thirty years few issues have drawn more public, political, and professional attention in state and nation than that of adequate medical care for all citizens. A profoundly complex issue, it touches every aspect of the medical profession from education and organization to the practice of medicine itself. In this regard, one of the more dramatic developments in recent years has been the return...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 83-90)
  13. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 91-96)