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PURPLE


295


PUTNAM


The father was a tanner and shoemaker and young Samuel only went to a rural school, and when his father died in 1839 he had to take over the business, pay the many debts and support the family. But he had two relatives who encouraged him to study: his grandfather, Dr. Sheffield and Dr. W. D. Purple, and when twenty-three had so far succeeded in business that he took a course of med- ical lectures at Geneva Medical College, secured free for him. There were some big teachers there and Purple returned home eager to earn money for more teaching. The gift of a free course at the University of New York from his uncle and the advantage of being under Valentine Mott enabled him to graduate M. D. in 1844 and return home happy.

Whether to be a country practitioner or a city one? He had a poor wardrobe and twenty-five dollars in cash. To the city he went, working on a canal boat part of the way to save fare, and entering the ser\'ice of the old Marion Street Maternity, New York, until he had an appointment in the New York Dispen- sary. Patients came slowly, but they did come eventually, also an editorship — of the "New York Journal of Medicine," which he held capably for ten years, and his own papers in it established his reputation as a man who knew what he was writing about. 1875 saw him presi- dent of the New York Academy of Medi- cine and re-elected in 1877. He had worked hard for its interests and used all his influence and most of his money to secure for it a library and a home, and deserved the honor. One man lent a willing ear, this was Dr. John B. Beck, who, himself possessing a valuable library, urged Purple to avail himself of his editorship to collect old medical books, pamphlets, and files of medical journals. Much dealing with old bookstores led him to begin on American historical literature and helped Dr. Henry Stiles in editing "The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record." One of his " finds" he rescued from going to a paper mill. It was Dr. Samuel Bard's "In-


quiry into the Nature and Cure of Angina Suffocativa or Sore Throat Distemper," 1771, a very accurate account of what is now known as diphtheria. To the Acad- emy library he gave that great treasure the serial medical literature of this country, for more than one-fourth of a century ransacking every bookstore and corresponding with every likely person, 5,000 medical journals being his ultimate gift and $75,000 donation won by his influence from Dr. Alexander Hosack.

There was so much he meant to do besides: to write up biographies for his splendid collection of medical portraits and increase the number of valuable works in the Academy library, but in 1899 he had hemorrhage into the poste- rior chamber of the eye which perman- ently destroyed its sight, and he knew he had advanced Bright's disease. He had never married, but his roof-tree sheltered his old mother, brother and brother's widow and children. He met death in the same calm dignified way with which he had coped with early poverty, and the shoemaker's son is commemorated on a tablet in the library of the New York Academy of Medicine as its founder and president.

Among the few published papers are found: "Corpeus Luteum; Its Value as Evidence of Conception and Its Relation to Legal Medicine;" "Observations on Wounds of the Heart and Their Relations to Forensic Medicine;" forty-two cases.

He was, among other offices, an honor- ary member of the Medical Society of the State of New York; corresponding member of the Epidemiological Society, London; physician to the New York and Lying-in Asylum; examining surgeon. New York State Department.

There is an oil painting of Dr. Purple in the library of the Academy of Medicine, New York. D. W.

Med. Lib. and Hist. Jour., April, 1903.

(S. Smith.)

Putnam, Israel (1805-1876).

Israel Putnam was born in Sutton, Massachusetts, December 25, 1805, and