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July 21, 1989

Yankee Surgeon: The Life and Times of Usher Parsons (1788-1868)

Author Affiliations

Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston

Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston

JAMA. 1989;262(3):414-415. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430030102047

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Usher Parsons, the subject of this biography, lived from 1788 to 1868, years in which medicine and surgery had begun the slow transformation from empirical crafts to professions based on science. To recognize the era before the transition, the reader need read only one of the verbose consultation opinions quoted in this volume or consider the routine use of clysters, puking, and bloodletting as standard methods of therapy in the early days of Usher's career.

Usher became the outstanding member of the surgical profession in the early days of the state of Rhode Island. His fame as a physician and historian also spread to neighboring states. Because no definitive biography had been written about him, Dr Goldowsky was given an excellent opportunity to combine a detailed survey of Usher's life with a description of medical care as it existed at that time.

The author has allowed contemporary events and records