PARKER, Willard, surgeon, born in
Hillsborough, New Hampshire, 2 September, 1800; died in New York city,
25 April, 1884. His ancestors emigrated to Massachusetts in 1640 and
settled in Chelmsford, to which place his father returned when Willard
was five years old. He taught in the district schools to obtain means to
enter Harvard, where he was graduated in 1826. He then opened a school
in Charlestown with the intention of studying for the ministry, but
subsequently decided to adopt the profession of medicine, became the
private pupil of Dr. John C. Warren, attended medical lectures in
Boston, and took his degree at Harvard in 1830. The year before he had
been appointed lecturer on anatomy in the Vermont medical college, and
immediately after his graduation he became professor of the same branch
in Berkshire medical college, Pittsfield, Massachusetts Three years
later he accepted the chair of surgery there, which he held till 1836,
when he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, to become professor of surgery in
the medical college of that city. He spent several months in Europe in
1837, and in 1839 settled in New York city, with the appointment of
professor of surgery in the College of physicians and surgeons, which he
held for thirty years, subsequently accepting the chair of clinical
surgery, which he resigned a few months before his death. During the
next ten years he established a large and lucrative practice, and took
the highest rank in his profession. His remarkable success was based on
great knowledge and skill, and his mode of treatment, which inspired the
absolute faith of his patients. All the important operations that are
only undertaken by great surgeons were performed by him with more than
ordinary success. He made many important discoveries in practical
surgery, including that of cystotomy and that for the cure of abscess of
the appendix vermiformis. His operation for laceration of the perinceum
during parturition is regarded as an important advance in the science of
surgery. He was the first in this country to call attention to the
phenomena of the concussion of the nerves as distinguished from that of
the nerve-centres, and in 1854 was also the first to describe and report
cases of malignant pustule. In the spring of 1840, appreciating the want
of practical demonstration in teaching surgery, and the difficulty in
securing eases for illustration in colleges that were unconnected with
hospitals, he visited with his students two or three of the city
dispensaries, selected interesting eases, and had them taken to the
College of physicians and surgeons, where the anatomical theatre offered
superior advantages for making diagnoses and performing operations
before the class. This was the first college clinic in the United
States. He was active in the organization of the New York pathological
society in 1843, of that for the relief of widows and orphans of medical
men in 1846, and of the New York academy of medicine in 1847, becoming
its president in 1856, and holding office for many years.
In 1846, with Dr. James R. Wood,
he secured the necessary legislation to reorganize the city almshouse
into what is now Bellevue hospital, and was appointed one of its
visiting surgeons. In 1856 he was chosen to a similar post in the New
York hospital. In 1864-'6 he was active in procuring legislation to
create the New York city board of health, made many visits to Albany in
its behalf, and was one of its members from its organization. On the
death in 1868 of Dr. Valentine Mott, who was president of the New York
state inebriate asylum at Binghamton, Dr. Parker was appointed his
successor, and became interested in this field of work. His
administration proved eminently successful, his treatment of his
patients being based on the theory that alcohol is essentially a poison,
that it cannot be considered as food, and should be used only in
exceptional cases and under the advice of a physician. Dr. Parker
continued to practice within two years of his death, and was consulting
surgeon to Bellevue, Mount Sinai, St. Luke's, Roosevelt, and the New
York hospitals. He was a member of many foreign and domestic
professional bodies, active in benevolent and religious organizations,
and the friend of education. As a teacher he enjoyed the highest
success, his fine personal presence and affable manners winning the
regard of his pupils, and his direct and lucid way of imparting
information securing their attention. Princeton gave him the degree of
LL.D. in 1870. The Willard Parker hospital for contagious diseases was
erected and named in his honor. Few American surgeons have filled so
acceptably. so large a number of responsible offices His extensive
practice prevented his giving much time to writing, and even the reports
of his eases have been made by other physicians, but he published
several monographs in medical journals, among which are "Cystotomy"
(1850) ; "Spontaneous Fractures" (1852); "On the High Operation for
Stone in the Female" (1855) ; "The Concussion of Nerves" (1856);"
Ligature of the Subclavian Artery" (1864) ; and a lecture on "Cancer"
Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM
From Bellevue Hospital:
Parker,* Willard, 1884.
A. B., Harvard, 1826; A. M., 1829; M.
D., 1830; LL.D., Princeton, 1870; House Phys., U. S. Marine Hosp.,
Chelsea, Mass., 1827; Prof. Surg., Berkshire, 1832; Cincin., 1836; Prof.
Clin. Surg., Coll. Phys. & Surg., N. Y., 1870-81; Emeritus, 1881-84.
Died in N. Y. City, 1884, aet. 84; cause, cystitis and pyelitis.
Surgeon.—Born in Hillsboro, N. H.,
Sept. 2, 1800.—A. B. H. U. '26, A. M. '29, M. D. '30; I,L.D. Princeton
'70.—House Phys. U. S. Marine Hosp., Chelsea, Mass., '27. Prof. Surg.
Berkshire '32. Cincinn. '36. Prof. Clinic. Surg. Coll P. and S. '7o-'81.
Emeritus '81-'84.—Cons. Surg. Bell. Hosp. '68-'84,—Died N. Y. '84, of
cystitis and pyelitis.
(The personal edited research
notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or
may not be completely documented)