Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/468

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STILLE 414


STILLE


to'his mother's house in "West Chester, Pennsylvania. There he was attacked with pneumonia of a grave form, and died after ten days' illness.

From the Med. Reg. of the State of N. York, vol. xi. 1S73-4.

StiUe, Alfred (1813-1900).

Born in 1813, the son of John and Maria (Wagner) Stills, early Swedish immigrants, Dr. Stills began his lifework with the generation which saw the new pathology and the new clinical methods. After joining in the "conic section" re- bellion at Yale, which led to the retire- ment of one-half of the class, he seems to have had for a time a leaning toward the law. "During the years of probation," he says, "I tested the strength of my partiality for a medical career by some medical reading, including Bell's "Anat- omj^" and Bichat's "General Anatomy," and attending the anatomical instruction at the Jefferson Medical College.

The best of luck awaited him when, in 1835-36, he became house physician at " Blockley," under W. W. Gerhard, a clinical teacher of the very first rank, and fresh from the wards of the great French physician, Louis.

While still a medical student two of his fellow-townsmen returned from abroad glowing with the fire they had caught in Paris, the then acknowledged center of medical science. Gerhard and Pennock were the apostles of the school of obser- vation under whose preaching he be- came a zealous convert and, as soon as it was possible, hastened to the enchanted scene of their European labors.

Method and accuracy were from the first characteristic of Dr. Still^'s work. He played an interesting part in that splendid contribution of American medi- cine to the differentiation of typhus and typhoid fever. I will let him tell the story in his own words. In a manuscript he says: "The year 1836 is memorable for an epidemic of typhus (t. petechialis) which prevailed in the district of the city which is the usual seat of epidemics caused or aggravated by crowding, viz.,


south of Spruce and between Fourth and Tenth Streets. A great many of the poor creatures living in that overcrowded region and who were attacked with ty- phus were brought to the Philadelphia Hospital, where I had charge of one of the wards assigned to them. I had the great good fortune to study these cases under Dr. Gerhard. His permanent rep- utation rests upon the papers published by him in Hays' 'Journal,' in which he fully established the essential differences between this disease and typhoid fever. Every step of my study of typhus in the wards and post-mortem revealed new contrasts between the two diseases, so that I felt surprised that the British physicians should have continued to con- found them. I was very diligent in mak- ing clinical notes and dissections, spend- ing many hours every day in the presence of the disease. " In an unpublished mem- oir of Dr. Still6 read before the Medical Society of Observation (September 14 and 28, 1838), the two diseases are com- pared, symptom by symptom and lesion by lesion; and, apart from the phenomena of fever common to all febrile affections, the opposite of what is observed in the one is sure to be presented in the other." (Valleix, "Arch, gen.," February, 1839, p. 213.)

Between two and three years of study in Europe gave Dr. Stille a fine training for his lifework. Returning to Phila- delphia, he began practice, wrote for journals, taught students, and gradually there came to him reputation and recog- nition. After lecturing on pathology and the practice of medicine in the Philadel- phia Association for Medical Instruction he was elected, in 1854, to the chair of practice in the Pennsylvania Medical College. In 1864 he succeeded Dr. Pepper (primus) in the chair of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. While always a student, he was no her- mit, but from the start took a deep interest in the general welfare of the profession. He was the first secretary of the American Medical Association, and president in 1867. The local socie-