Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/566

This page needs to be proofread.




a Factor in Skin Diseases," in the "New York Hospital Gazette," in 1878. In 1882, in conjunction with Dr. E. W. Gushing, he published in the "Archives of Dermatology," a paper on "Buccal Ulcerations of Constitutional Origin"; in 1883 a communication on "Purpura from Quinine" appeared in the " Boston Medi- cal and Surgical Journal"; and in 1896 he delivered the annual address before the American Dermatological Association.

Throughout his active career there was but little medical work of general importance to his community in which he was not a participant. He devoted considerable time and money unsuccess- fully to the popularizing of the metric system, and was a founder of the Boston Medical Library Association. He did active service as one of the committee to raise the large sum necessary to establish the Harvard Medical School and was actively interested in the early attempts to secure registration of physicians in order to protect citizens of his native state against quackery and extortion. As a member of the health department of the American Social Science Associa- tion he spent years of faithful and per- sistent effort in promoting its unselfish objects. Although through inheritance he might have lived solely for his own pleasure, his life was one of continued devotion to the welfare of others. A hater of shams and uncompromising in his own sense of right, he was neverthe- less tolerant of the views of others.

While still in practice, and apparently still fit for years of continued usefulness, he died at the age of fifty-five. Death came as he would have wished, swiftly and surely, without sufifering. A prelim- inary brief attack of unconsciousness, fol- lowed by such slight discomfort that the few intervening days were rather those of rest than prostration, and the final apoplectic stroke, so immediate and so beneficent that to him at least, the blow was surely full of mercy. He died in January, 1896, of apoplexy following Bright's disease.

In 1882 he was married to Sarah

Willard Frothingham, who with two children survived him.

P. A. M.

Wilbur, Hervey Backus (1820-1883).

This philanthropic physician, educator of the idiot, was born in Wendall, Massa- chusetts, August 18, 1820; his father was a Congregational minister and known as a lecturer on natural history, and the author of a popular work on astronomy.

The son graduated from Amherst College in 1838, and from the Berkshire Medical College at Pittsfield, Massa- chusetts in 1842, then practised medicine at Lowell and Barre and married Eliza- beth Holden. After her death he married Emily Petheram of Skaneateles, New York, and was survived by two sons by his first wife, Charles H. and Harry, and by his .second wife and two sons, Hervey and Dr. Fred Petheram Wilbur.

Hearing of Dr. Edward Seguin's success in the teaching of idiots at Bicetre, he became interested and eagerly read Seguin's book on the subject. Later, his preceptor at Lowell left his practice temporarily in his charge. In this duty he visited the County Home where he found a man, idiot, only possess- ing a good memory for dates. The belief that from this one faculty the man's mind could have been educated to a certain degree, took possession of him, and in 1848, at Barre, Massachusetts, in his own house, he opened the first school for idiots in this country. A physician, Dr. Frederick F. Backus, of Rochester, New York, then a member of the New York Senate, became interested in Dr. Wilbur's work in Massachusetts and succeeded in having the state open an experimental school at Albany in 1851. Dr. Wilbur was called to the charge of it, and, in 1854 it was made a permanent charity of the state under his care and removed to Syracuse.

He died suddenly on May 1, 1883, of rupture of the heart.

A tablet in the wall of the main building of the New York State Institution for the Feeble-Minded says: "The first in