Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge, M.D

Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge, M.D

Article excerpt

Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge, M.D. New Introduction by John S. Hailer, Jr. and Barbara Mason (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2004. Pp. 304. Paper, $30.00).

Thanks to children eager to try a new toy, historians can learn about the practice of medicine in nineteenth-century Illinois and accompany a surgeon of Colonel Richard J. Oglesb/s regiment to the battlefields of the Civil War. Silas Thompson Trowbridge (1826-1893) gave his children a hand printing press and, needing something for them to publish, he wrote a memoir of his twenty-year medical career.

After an apprenticeship and a self-guided reading course, in 1849, Trowbridge opened a practice in New Castle, Illinois. Within a few months, he relocated to Decatur, where he diplomatically introduced himself to the town's two older physicians who began to send patients his way. Despite this favorable reception, the following year he decided to attend Chicago's Rush Medical College. The college required most students to complete three years of study; but, in recognition of his prior experience, Trowbridge was allowed to graduate after a single semester.

When he returned to Decatur, however, he discovered that a medical diploma meant less than visible results. A physician's reputation very much depended upon his patients' fate. It rose when they recovered; it plummeted when they did not. During the 1853 outbreak of a disease called "Typhoid Pneumonia," for example, Trowbridge lost six patients, all prominent citizens. His clientele-especially among Decatur's elite-immediately shrank. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.