Medical Record/Volume 15/Obituary-George B. Wood, M.D.

Medical Record, Volume 15
Obituary. George B. Wood, M.D.


George B. Wood, M.D.,


This eminent physician and medical author died early on Sunday morning, March 30th, at his residence at 1117 Arch street, in Philadelphia, in the eighty-second year of his age. He had been confined to his house for the past four years, and had not been able to leave his bed for the last two years.

Dr. Wood was born in Greenwich, Cumberland Co., New Jersey, on the thirteenth of March, 1797. His parents were Friends, and his great-grandfather, Richard Wood, was a county judge in 1748. The education of Dr. Wood was begun in the city of New York, but was completed at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in the year 1815. Immediately after obtaining the degree of A.B., he entered the office of Dr. Joseph Parrish, of Philadelphia, and took the degree of M.D., in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, in the year 1818. He delivered, in 1820, a course of lectures on chemistry, and in 1822 was appointed to the chair of chemistry in the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. This position he held until the year 1831, when he was made Professor of Materia Medica in the same college. On the 6th of November, 1835, he was elected to the chair of materia medica and pharmacy in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. When Dr. Nathaniel Chapman resigned the chair of theory and practice in 1850, Dr. Wood was elected to fill his place. In 1860 he resigned the professorship of the theory and practice of medicine, and was made emeritus, being succeeded in the active duties of the chair by old Dr. William Pepper. In 1869 he was elected a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Wood was attending physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital from 1835 to 1859. In this latter year he was elected president of the American Philosophical Society, which position, together with that of the presidency of the Philadelphia College of Physicians, he held at the time of his death.

His election to the chair of materia medica in the University, in 1835, was productive of new and fresh interest in that branch, in consequence of its being made a demonstrative one in each science pertaining to it So too, in his hands, the chair of theory and practice became as eminently demonstrative, for he was a very elegant and instructive lecturer. He richly endowed it with all the materials for teaching, and into every department of this varied subject introduced appropriate illustrations in the form of drawings of the pathological lesions of the organs, together with physical apparatus, and casts and models of the various forms of disease. In addition to the creation of an admirable cabinet of drawings and specimens illustrative of the materia medica, Dr. Wood erected a spacious greenhouse, in connection with a garden, and stocked them with many varieties of rare tropical and exotic plants, which he exhibited as illustrations of the subjects treated in his lectures. One of his bequests to the school was a very extensive collection of dried medicinal plants.

Dr. Wood was the author of numerous and valuable books, chiefly relating to his profession, which still rank among medical classics. His first important work, the "Dispensatory of the United States," was written in conjunction with Franklin Bache, M.D., and the original edition was published in Philadelphia in 1833 (8vo, pp. 1073). This work at once stamped him as a man whose research and knowledge were of the highest order. The "Dispensatory" was thoroughly exhaustive in its description of the many medical agents peculiar to American and foreign therapeutics, indicating minutely their various properties and effects. It went through fourteen editions, the last being in 1877 (8vo, pp. 1880). Of it some 160,000 copies have been sold up to the present day. Dr. Wood wrote fully two-thirds of this work. In addition to this book he prepared, conjointly with Dr. Bache, in 1830, a "Pharmacopœia," which was adopted, with slight alterations made under the superintendence of its authors, by the national convention of physicians assembled for that purpose, and which became the basis of the present U. S. Pharmacopœia.

In 1847 he published a "Treatise on the Practice of Medicine" (2 vols. 8vo). It ran through six editions, the last appearing in 1867. He also published, in 1856, a "Treatise on Therapeutics and Pharmacology," which had three editions, the last being issued in 1868 (2 vols. 8vo, pp. 1848), and a volume containing twelve lectures, six addresses, and two biographical memoirs, in 1859. The lectures and addresses were delivered chiefly before the medical classes of the University of Pennsylvania. He also wrote "The History of the Pennsylvania Hospital," "History of the University of Pennsylvania," "Biographical Memoir of Franklin Bache," etc. In 1872 these sketches, with the addition of the "History of Christianity in India," "History of the British Empire in India," "History of Girard College," and other papers, were collected into a volume, styled "Memoirs, Essays, and Addresses."

In 1865 Dr. Wood endowed an auxiliary Faculty of Medicine in the University of Pennsylvania, which was composed of five chairs, namely: First, Zoology and Comparative Anatomy. Second, Botany. Third, Mineralogy and Geology. Fourth, Hygiene. Fifth, Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology. The incumbent of each chair is required to deliver during the months of April, May, and June, not less than thirty-four lectures, for which he receives $500 a year.

Although retired from active professional service for some sixteen years, the death of Dr. Geo. B. Wood removes from the head of the medical profession in Philadelphia the dignified successor in the long line of worthy names that have given that city its eminence among medical centres. When his stately presence was no longer seen among his younger confrères at the University, in the retirement of advancing years, his energy and interest were still given to the medical school that had been the field of his labors and triumphs.

His funeral took place on Wednesday from his residence. Much of his property is left by his will to the Medical Department and Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.