Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BIGELOW, Jacob, physician, born in Sudbury, Massachusetts, 27 February 1787; died in Boston, 10 January 1879. He was graduated at Harvard in 1806, studied medicine, opened his office in Boston in 1810, and displayed unusual skill. In 1811 he delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa society a poem on "Professional Life," afterward published at Boston. He early made a reputation as a botanist, had an extensive European correspondence, and different plants were named for him by Sir J. E. Smith, in the supplement to "Rees's Cyclopaedia," by Schrader in Germany, and De Candolle in France. He was one of the committee of five selected in 1820 to form the "American Pharmacopoeia," and is to be credited with the principle of the nomenclature of materia medica afterward adopted by the British Colleges, substituting a single for a double word whenever practicable. He founded Mount Auburn, the first garden cemetery established in the United States, and the model after which all others in the country have been made. The much-admired stone tower, chapel, gate, and fence were all built after his designs. During a term of twenty years Dr. Bigelow was a physician of the Massachusetts general hospital, and in 1856 the trustees of that institution ordered a marble bust of him to be placed in the hall. He was professor of materia medica in Harvard University from 1815 to 1855, and from 1816 to 1827 held the Rumford professorship in the same institution, delivering lectures on the application of science to the useful arts. These lectures were published in a volume entitled "Elements of Technology," republished with the title "Useful Arts considered in Connection with the Applications of Science" (2 vols., New York, 1840). Notable among his papers was one entitled "A Discourse on Self-Limited Disease," which was delivered as an address before the Massachusetts medical society in 1835, and had a marked effect in modifying the practice of physicians. He was during many years the president of that society, and was also president of the American academy of arts and sciences. Retiring from the active practice of his profession some years before his death, Dr. Bigelow gave much attention to the subject of education, and especially to the matter of establishing and developing technological schools. In an address "On the Limits of Education," delivered in 1865 before the Massachusetts institute of technology, he emphasized the necessity of students devoting themselves to special technical branches of knowledge. He published, besides works already mentioned, "Florula Bostoniensis" (1814; enlarged eds., 1824 and 1840); an edition, with notes, of Sir J. E. Smith's work on botany (1814); "American Medical Botany" (3 vols., Boston, 1817-'20) ; "Nature in Disease," a volume of essays (1854) ; "A Brief Exposition of Rational Medicine," to which was prefixed "The Paradise of Doctors, a Fable " (Philadelphia, 1858); "History of Mount Auburn" (1860); and "Modern Inquiries" and "Remarks on Classical Studies" (Boston, 1867). Dr. Bigelow was also known as a writer on other than medical subjects. He was a frequent contributor to the reviews and periodicals, and was the reputed author of a volume of poems entitled "Eolopoesis" (New York, 1855), containing imitations of American poets.
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