ID’d Civil War Pharmacist, Surgeon Diplomas and Surgical Apprenticeship Document
ID’d Civil War Pharmacist, Surgeon Diplomas and Surgical Apprenticeship Document – These diplomas awarded Oliver G. Sherman, a native of Virginia, a degree as a graduate of the prestigious Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, in 1858; the physician’s diploma, was awarded to Sherman, by the famed Bellevue Hospital in New York City, in 1864 and was signed by the faculty. Sherman apprenticed, in the years 1863 – 1865, under the renown Civil War surgeon, Dr. Frank Hastings Hamilton. Hamilton served as the surgeon for the 31rst NY Infantry, as well as as an officer in the U.S. Volunteer Medical Corps. A letter, from Dr. Hamilton, confers his approval of Sherman’s successful apprenticeship, in completing a course of study, in the setting and reducing of fractures, ligating arteries and the performance of amputations. Although Sherman, trained as a pharmacist and physician, he would never serve as a surgeon in the Union Army, but was apparently training to do so, should his services have been needed Accompanying the documents, is a slipper-like beaded textile, with the initials and date: “O.G.S. 1864″ These beaded “slippers” were made by Native American women in the early to mid-19th century, as souvenirs. In addition, an extremely rare, well-executed, leather bound, gold-embossed tin document tube, with the inscription: “Oliver G. Sherman Bellevue Med. Hospital 1864″ encases his medical school diploma. Both diplomas are on fine sheepskin and in wonderful condition. The leather bound tube, documents and beaded textile were recently recovered in an early 19th century house in Maine.
Bellevue Hospital Medical College, founded in 1861, was the 1st medical college in New York with connections to a hospital. Bellevue trained many surgeons who would serve in the Civil War. In the 1860s, the length of time it took to receive a medical degree was only two years. Bellevue’s faculty was responsible for writing and publishing many of the manuals used in Civil War medicine. Dr. Hamilton was a well-known military surgeon who served as a field surgeon as well as an instructor in military surgery. Hamilton was also co-founder of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College. Some of the war period medical books that he authored were:
A Practical Treatise on Fractures and Dislocations, 1860, 1863.
A Practial Treatise on Military Surgery, 1861.
A Practical Treatise on Military Surgery and Hygiene, 1865.
Dr. Hamilton’s authorship for his books noted him, on the frontispieces, as: “Frank Hastings Hamilton: Professor of Principles of Surgery and Military Surgery, with Fractures and Dislocations”. Dr. Hamilton would later serve as one of the attending physicians to the dying President James Garfield, after Garfield’s assassination.
In addition to Dr. Hamilton, the signatures on this diploma represent some of the great medical men who participated in the Civil War, in some capacity. Another well-known military surgeon who signed this document was Dr. Stephen Smith. Smith wrote one of the most widely used Civil War surgical manuals, Handbook of Surgical Operations. Another signatory of this diploma was Dr. Austin Flint Sr., a leading physician of his time and a pioneer in the diagnosis of heart ailments - SOLD