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American Medical Biographies/Longworth, Landon Rives

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Longworth, Landon Rives (1846–1879)

Landon Rives Longworth was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 25, 1846, the second son of Joseph and Anna Maria Rives Longworth. His mother, Miss Anna Maria Rives, was the daughter of Dr. Landon Rives, who was for many years professor of obstetrics in the Medical College of Ohio. In 1863 Landon entered Harvard College and received his A. B. in 1867. In 1868 he went to Europe to study art and worked under Hans Gude, at Carlsruhe, and became a painter of no ordinary merit.

His aim was both to cultivate his art and to bring the enjoyment of it within the reach of the people. He found, however, no encouragement. Discouraged, he sought other fields, in which, with his wealth, he could be of the greatest benefit to humanity. The spring of 1870 found him beginning to study medicine under Dr. Edward Rives, and he matriculated in the Medical College of Ohio, but in the fall went to New York, where he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1873 he graduated, taking the faculty prize for a thesis on "The Ligature of the External Carotid," which was later published in the Archives of Scientific and Practical Medicine, May, 1873. After graduation he again visited Germany, going first to Vienna, where he sat under Hebra; studied the ophthalmoscope with Jaeger and Arlt, the laryngoscope with Schrötter and Stoerck, and enjoyed the benefits of the many practical courses in operative surgery. After one term in Vienna he went to Strassburg to study histology. There he entered the laboratory of Waldeyer, and took the courses of V. Recklinghausen, and while there published his "Discoveries of the Nerve Terminations in the Conjunctiva" in the "Archiv. fur Miscroscopische Anatomie" of Max Schultze. Returning home in the Fall of 1874, he was immediately chosen assistant demonstrator in the Medical College of Ohio and lecturer on dermatology and pathologist to the Good Samaritan Hospital. He was adjunct professor of anatomy and clinical surgery in the Medical College of Ohio in 1875 and professor in the same chairs from 1876 to 1879, also pathologist to the Cincinnati Hospital from 1876 until his death. Surgery and dermatology were his specialties, and he rapidly built up a practice but soon after gave it up and devoted himself exclusively to scientific investigation. With characteristic energy he turned his house into a medical workshop, retaining only two rooms for non-medical work—his sleeping apartment and a music room; the latter a place where all the better musicians of the city were in the habit of meeting.

It was in this house that Dr. Longworth began his work on photography, injection, and the electric light. The process of photography of microscopic preparations he developed, by means of a new apparatus, to such an extent that all his results were satisfactory—results that would have been given to the world in a short time, if he had lived, in the form of a work on microscopic anatomy. The methods which he used were described fully in a lecture given by him before the Academy of Medicine of Cincinnati, May 18, 1878, entitled "Hints on Improvements in Micro-photography." During his last year his whole time was taken up by injecting, and the electric light. He devised a new instrument for injecting, his injection mass being his own invention.

In the last session of the college he used the electric candle for his demonstrations in anatomy, and had just completed the construction of a lantern, by means of which he could throw the images of solid bodies upon the screen, thus enabling him to perform dissections of organs, such as the brain, before a class of 350, showing each and all of them every step, by means of a large picture thrown upon the screen. In his studies on electricity he went so far as to construct a new electric candle, for which he was granted a patent, May 21, 1878.

Dr. Longworth was never married.

On the fifth of January, 1879, he was taken ill with pneumonia, and died on the fourteenth.

From an address by Dr. F. Forchheimer, read at the commencement exercises of the Medical College of Ohio, Feb. 28, 1879.