American Medical Biographies/Ives, Eli

Ives, Eli (1779–1861)

Eli Ives was born in New Haven, February 7, 1779, son of Dr. Levi Ives (1750–1826), a physician of large practice in New Haven and a founder of the New Haven Medical Society. He entered Yale College in 1795, graduating in 1799, and then spent fifteen months as the rector of the Hopkins Grammar School, at New Haven. While thus teaching, he took up the study of medicine under his father and Dr. Eneas Munson, Senior (q. v.), and later went to Philadelphia to attend the lectures of Rush, Wistar and Barton, at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1802 he returned and began the practice of medicine, being made a member of the Connecticut Medical Society on May 4, 1802. Theree years later he again went to Philadelphia to attend the lectures there, But did not remain long enough to graduate. In October, 1811, the honorary degree of M. D. was conferred upon him by the Connecticut Medical Society.

He was prominent among those who established the Yale Medical School, being on all the committees of conference and practically at the head of the movement so far as the medical society was concerned. On the opening of the school in November, 1813, he became professor of materia medica and kept the position until 1829, when he was transferred to the chair of the theory and practice of medicine. This professorship he filled until 1852, when he took the chair of materia medica again, retaining it until his death nine years later, but being for the last eight years professor emeritus. He is described by Dr. Henry Bronson, who was once his private pupil, as "tall and spare, of a weak organization, with a pleasant countenance and mild blue eye, unceremonious and unpretending, familiar and agreeable in manners and plain in dress." He was not an eloquent instructor, but gave a good practical course. In his knowledge of botany he was ahead of his time, and, at the opening of the medical school, established, on grounds adjoining the college, a botanical garden for the benefit of his classes, which was not properly seconded as an enterprise and so perished from neglect. He gave special attention to indigenous vegetable remedies in his extensive practice, and is said to have been one of the first to employ chloroform, having prescribed it by inhalation as well as by stomach, in 1832, a year after its discovery by Samuel Guthrie (q.v.) of Sackett's Harbor.

He was a member of the first convention which framed the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1820, and, at the second convention in 1830, was made the president. For three years, from 1824–1827, he was vice president of the Connecticut Medical Society. When the American Medical Association met in New Haven in 1860, he was chosen its president. He served, also, as the candidate for lieutenant-governor on the anti-Masonic ticket in 1831, and acted for many years as the president of the Horticultural and Pomological Societies. He married on September 17, 1805, Maria Beers and had three sons, who took up the study of medicine, and one daughter who married a physician. He died on October 8, 1861. A portrait of him is preserved in the family. It was reproduced for his memoir in the "Proceedings of the Connecticut Medical Society for 1867."

Charles Linnaeus Ives (1831–1879), a grandson of Eli Ives, was a practitioner in New Haven, Connecticut, and was professor of the theory and practice of medicine in Yale.

Proceedings Connecticut Medical Society, 1864– 1867, 2 s., vol. ii, 311–322. Portrait.
Some Account of the Medical Profession in New Haven, F. Bacon, 1887.