Clenched Fist Typing; Research Update

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I know it has been a little quiet this week; I sat down today while the game was on to catch up, but trust me, you can’t type with clenched fists.

But thankfully, things are much better here at the DC-MSU Bulldogs Annex:

This game got a little too tight for my comfort here and there. Image source: ESPN.com

This game got a little too tight for my comfort here and there. Image source: ESPN.com

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I promised an update, and I won’t disappoint! It has been a good week for new information.

First, I think I’ve found out where Emmett’s father went to medical school in 1859 — right before the Civil War broke out. I had thought Dr. Francis Wilson had attended the Medical College of Virginia during that time, since his family history said that he was enlisted in Lynchburg. Logistically, it made sense, because at the time, his extended family lived around Lunenberg, Virginia. Unfortunately, the archivist at MCV reported no record of Dr. Francis C. Wilson.

However, the archivist suggested I look in Alabama, because she thinks he likely joined a military company in Alabama, which was then reorganized into the 11th Alabama in Lynchburg. I hadn’t considered that possibility — just goes to show what an outside, fresh set of eyes can see for you.

So, I jumped right on that lead and contacted the Alabama archivists she recommended. I’m waiting to hear back from them. Progress!

Second, I’ve been reading an interesting book about how physicians were trained in the 19th century.

American Physicians in the 19th Century, published right up the road, The Johns Hopkins University Press

American Physicians in the 19th Century by William G. Rothstein. Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Rothstein — also a faculty member with the University of Maryland system — has written this book in an interesting and readable style, definitely not what I expected in a textbook.

One of the main reasons I got this book is because of an extensive and well researched chapter on medical education after the Civil War, which gives me a very good understanding about Dr. Wilson’s medical training.

Here are just a few items of interest from the book relevant to my research on Emmett’s father:

Dr. Wilson didn’t go back to medical school after the Civil War ended, but he worked with a preceptor, a master physician. Dr. Wilson was this physician’s apprentice, and he had to pay for the privilege of being this doctor’s lackey, basically. Rothstein said that on average, an apprentice could pay about $100 a year for the privilege of studying with the preceptor, but rate could be higher depending on who that doctor was (and his expertise). This was rather expensive for Dr. Wilson, especially if he would have had to provide for his own equipment, room, board and the like.

Also, physicians who did not attend medical school did train with preceptors back then; it was an accepted practice, but not without problems. Rothstein said the medical training apprentices received was only as good as that preceptor’s training. For example: If Dr. Wilson-the-apprentice was only studying under a physician with mediocre skills, and that physician was in a rural area without access to hospitals or laboratories, the Dr. Wilson-the-apprentice’s education and resulting skill development would be limited.

Fortunately, I believe Emmett’s father had good training; otherwise, I do not believe Dr. Wilson would have been as successful in his career as he was.

I thought I’d have some more content written, but I’ve been deep into the reading of this book, and shaping the notes around Dr. Wilson’s story. Also, I’m planning to contact Dr. Rothstein to ask a few questions that would pertain to Dr. Wilson’s training.

So, the writing is not going as quickly as I had hoped this past week, but I have more information to use in shaping that story. It is all good.

 

 

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