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American Medical Biographies/Wood, Thomas Fanning

Wood, Thomas Fanning (1841–1892)

Thomas Fanning Wood, medical editor, botanist and organizer of a state board of health, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, February 23, 1841. His parents, Robert and Mary A. Wood, were from Nantucket, Massachusetts. He received a high school education in Wilmington and then went to work in a drugstore, where he mastered all that was then known of drugs, and at different times he became the private pupil of the chief physicians of the town. At the beginning of the Civil War he volunteered and was a private in the 18th North Carolina Infantry; he then served as hospital steward under Otis F. Mason (q.v.) in Richmond, Virginia. Here he attended a course of lectures at the Medical College of Virginia, and upon examination was appointed assistant surgeon to the 3rd North Carolina Infantry, remaining until the end of the war, when he returned home to practise. The Federal Army had left in Wilmington an epidemic of smallpox and Dr. Wood organized a hospital for the care of the sick and treated over thirteen hundred cases. He inoculated himself many times with virus from the pustules of his patients and his enthusiasm for vaccination was so great that he named his son Edward Jenner.

Dr. Wood received an honorary M. D. from the University of Maryland in 1868; was secretary of the Medical Society of North Carolina; was elected member of the Board of Medical Examiners of North Carolina, and the same year (1878) with M. J. DeRosset (q.v.), began the North Carolina Medical Journal, of which he was editor-in-chief until his death. He was interested in organized sanitary work and in 1885 secured a statute from the Legislature creating a State Board of Health in North Carolina, planned according to his ideas. As secretary of the Board he issued monthly bulletins with valuable statistics; he was a founder of the American Public Health Association and was its first vice-president.

Dr. Wood was an enthusiastic student of botany and was an authority on the plants of his State. This knowledge made him an important member of the committee for the revision of the Pharmacopoeia (1890–1900). With Gerald McCarthy he prepared a catalogue of the flora of that section of the South and it was published as a part of the transactions of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society of the University of North Carolina under the title of "Wilmington Flora," 1887.

Dr. Wood had an interest in the welfare of his native town and he was president of the Library Association when he died, in Wilmington, aged fifty, August 22, 1892.

N. C. Med. Jour., 1892, vol. xxx, 168–177.
Emin. Am. Phys. & Surgs., R. F. Stone, 1894.
Phys. & Surgs. of the U. S., W. B. Atkinson, 1878.