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January 31, 1931

A Brief History of Medicine in Massachusetts.

JAMA. 1931;96(5):381-382. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02720310071036

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There was no well trained physician on the Mayflower. The ministers present, however, were partly trained as physicians, in accordance with the custom of the times; the barber surgeons did the minor surgery. The physicians who came from England in those days were a combination of physician, minister and school master. Deacon Dr. Samuel Fuller, whose medical education was doubtful, became influential in the new colony through treating scurvy and in performing venesections. Following his death from smallpox in 1632 there was no practitioner of note in Massachusetts for nearly a hundred years. During this period the sick were cared for by the governors, of whom John Winthrop is the leading example, by the ministers, among whom the most prominent practitioner was Thomas Thatcher, and by school masters. Thatcher's article on smallpox and measles is said to be the first medical paper published in this country; probably the first anatomic

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