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Medical and Scientific Library of W. Bruce Fye Part IV / ANESTHESIA - DISCOVERY OF ETHER. BIGELOW, JACOB. 1786-1879. Autograph Letter Signed to Chester Dewey, 1 p, Boston, September 12, 1840.

LOT 1008
ANESTHESIA - DISCOVERY OF ETHER.
BIGELOW, JACOB. 1786-1879.
Autograph Letter Signed to Chester Dewey, 1 p, Boston, September 12, 1840.
20 – 29 June 2022, 12:00 EDT
En ligne, New York

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ANESTHESIA - DISCOVERY OF ETHER.

BIGELOW, JACOB. 1786-1879. Autograph Letter Signed to Chester Dewey, 1 p, Boston, September 12, 1840. Bigelow writes: "This will be handed you by my friend William Boott Esq. and devoted and persevering botanist, brother of Dr. [Francis] Boott of London. He is engaged in some particular inquiries, in the prosecution of which he will derive much advantage from the benefit of your advice & direction, particularly in regard to the Ferns of your district." Edges irregularly trimmed and evidence of previous mounting on verso.

A letter that is relevant to dissemination of the discovery of anesthesia. Jacob Bigelow graduated from Harvard in 1806 and received his M.D. four years later from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied under Benjamin Barton "whose work on the medicinal plants of the United States exerted a strong influence on Bigelow's subsequent career. He was professor of materia medica at Harvard Medical School from 1815 to 1855. During these years his medical fame was increasing.... He made the first effective protest in America against ill-chosen drugs and large doses, and against excessive blood-letting. He embodied in his Discourse on Self-limited Diseases (1835), the idea that many disorders, if left to the natural recuperative powers of the patient, would disappear more rapidly than from excessive medical treatment. Oliver Wendell Holmes said that it exerted more influence upon medical practice in America than any work that had ever been published in this country." (DAB 1(2):257-258.) See also ANB 2:752-753. Bigelow gave this letter to William Boott, who delivered it to Dewey. But he mentions "his friend" Francis Boott (1792-1863). A little more than six years after Bigelow wrote this letter he wrote to: "My Dear Boott, I send you an account of a new anodyne process latterly introduced here, which promises to be one of the most important discoveries of the present age.... I send you the Boston Daily Advertiser, which contains an article written by my son Henry ... relating to the discovery" (Duncum, The Development of Inhalation Anesthesia, p 130). "Boott lost no time in informing the London medical world. He sent Bigelow's letter to The Lancet and also to Robert Liston.... The early introduction of ether to London owes much to Boott's enthusiasm and interest in scientific advances" (ODNB 6:643-644). Chester Dewey (1784-1867) received his medical degree from Yale in 1825 and published several notable works on botany.

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