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The History of the Medical Department of Transylvania University   By:

The History of the Medical Department of Transylvania University by Robert Peter

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THE HISTORY OF The Medical Department OF Transylvania University


Prepared for Publication by his Daughter, MISS JOHANNA PETER Member of The Filson Club


[Illustration: Publisher's Symbol.]


COPYRIGHTED BY THE FILSON CLUB and All Rights Reserved 1905

[Illustration: DOCTOR ROBERT PETER.]


In preparing for publication the following sketch of the famous Transylvania Medical Department and its professors, I have placed in foot notes, as far as practicable, my own additions to the text, so as to avoid making any radical change in my father's manuscript.

Portions of the history may seem fragmentary; some of the lives of the professors may be incomplete; some, no doubt, are insufficiently noticed, but this is easily understood when it is considered that my father wrote this narrative at irregular intervals of leisure in the years from 1873 to 1878, when some of the professors were still living; and that the writing was left by him in a yet uncompleted state and lacking those finishing touches which no other hand could so well give. In what I have done I have striven for accuracy. My father's reminiscences will have due weight as coming from one most intimately associated with Transylvania and her medical teachers from the one colleague of all the brilliant company who could best transcribe them. The notice of Doctor Eberle I have copied from the Transylvania Journal of Medicine of 1838, as the nearest I could get to the estimation in which he was held in the Transylvania School. The sketch of Doctor Bruce is gathered mainly from obituaries by his colleagues. That of Doctor Chipley oftenest described, by those who knew him, as nature's nobleman was written by his daughter, Mrs. Boykin Jones, in answer to my letter to her. I have added a few words about Doctor Marshall, and Doctor Skillman, "the beloved physician," the last survivor of the Transylvania Medical Faculty. And I have given as best I could a description of the last declining years of Transylvania, with some account of the Medical Hall and its ultimate fate. Any biography of Doctor Peter, I fear, must be unsatisfactory unless written at length. The brief summary of his life introductory to The History of Transylvania University , published by The Filson Club in 1896, was called "insufficient," "far too modest," etc. Such the story of a life so long, so full, and so many sided must ever be unless a volume be devoted to it. In what I now say of my father I feel, even more than I did then, that I can not do justice. It is a mere itinerary of a life journey. The same thing is true in varying degree of all the Transylvania professors, and I repeat here what I said of the former History of Transylvania that all errors or faults must be ascribed to my own insufficiency to cope with the subject.

Nevertheless, with all its shortcomings, this is a record not unworthy of preservation, and while biographers point us to the fact that in the United States Senate there sat at one and the same time no fewer than eight graduates of Transylvania University, including Jefferson Davis, afterward President of the Southern Confederacy, the student of these pages will remark that Transylvania's Medical Department had already won as abundant laurels in the field of science.

My grateful acknowledgments are due, first and for many kindnesses, to our invaluable President, Colonel Reuben T. Durrett, through whose unfailing interest, literary judgment, and tactful encouragement so many gems of Kentucky history have been preserved which otherwise had perished, and to the many friends of old Transylvania who have bid me Godspeed in my undertaking. I am indebted to Mrs. Thomas H. Clay for letters and documents bearing upon my subject; to Miss Mary Mason Brown for a copy of Jouett's admirable portrait of Doctor Brown which hangs in the old Brown homestead at Frankfort; to Mrs... Continue reading book >>

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