• Berkshire Medical College Granted Degree To African American, Later President Of Liberia -- Two Lecture Tickets

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    Offering two lecture tickets issued to students of Berkshire Medical Institution, later the Berkshire College of Medicine.


    The 3 1/8 x 4 1/2 1841 matriculation ticket entitled student C.W.C. Howard to attend all lectures during that term. The ticket was signed by the school’s Dean M.A. Lee.  The 3 1/2 x 4 7/8 1862 ticket entitled student William Henry Harrison Varney to attend lectures on obstetrics and diseases of women and children. Varney practiced medicine in Vermont and served in the Vermont State Legislature.  Varney’s ticket was signed by the school’s president, Henry H. Childs, who had served as a State Legislator and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.  One of his first major political activities was lobbying the state for a charter to establish a medical school in Pittsfield, which was granted in 1823. The school, initially organized under the Williams College umbrella, became Berkshire Medical College. Varney was active in its early organizational years and served as its president from 1837, the year of its separation from Williams, until 1863.


    BERKSHIRE MEDICAL COLLEGE was a medical school in Pittsfield, MA. It is notable for establishing the first professorship in mental diseases at any medical school in the United States, and for granting the second medical degree to an African American, James Skivring Smith, who later became President of Liberia. It originated in 1823 as the Medical Department of Williams College and was disbanded in 1867.


    By 1830, the Institution was graduating 24 medical students, four more than Harvard. It introduced pathology to the medical school curriculum and opened a clinic for the needy. It sponsored a series of science lectures open to the public as well as to students, and tried to do something to round out the medical students’ education in literature, history, and general intellectual cultivation. In 44 years of its existence, it graduated 1,138 doctors and was an acknowledged success, even a leader, in medical education.


    Expected toning and some staining to the Varney ticket with light brushing to the signatures.  Light soiling to the Howard ticket.  Two wonderful examples of medical Americana.


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