Maj. Henry Pickering Bowditch M.D.

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Maj. Henry Pickering Bowditch M.D.'s Geni Profile

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Henry Pickering Bowditch

Birthdate: (70)
Birthplace: Canton, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States
Death: March 13, 1911 (70)
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jonathon Ingersoll Bowditch and Lucy Orne Bowditch
Husband of Selma Bowditch
Father of Ethel Jones; Fanny Bowditch; Theodora Jones; Selma Bowditch; Eliza Ingersoll Bowditch and 2 others
Brother of Charles Pickering Bowditch; Alfred Bowditch and Alice Frances Bowditch

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About Maj. Henry Pickering Bowditch M.D.


SOURCE Five Genealogies of Bowdish and Bowditch Families in Cyrus and Mary Ella Bowdish

Selma was born February 4, 1853 at Leipzig, Germany. She died March 1,1918 at Brookline, Norfolk Co., MA.

Henry served through the Civil War and retired with the rank of Major inthe 5th MA Cavalry. He was a professor Physiology at the Harvard Medical School and Dean of the school 1883-1893. In 1891, he bought Sunnyside,his uncle's home. He had degrees from Harvard A. B. 1861, A. M. 1866, M.D. 1868 and L. L. D. (hon) 1906, L. L. D. 1898 from Edinburgh, 1903 and1904 from Toronto and the University of PA, and a D. SC. 1898 Cambridge.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard in 1861. He was prepared to enter the Civil War at the Lawrence Scientific School. He became a 1st Lieutenant and then a Captain and was honorably discharged in February 1864 after being shot in the right forearm. And almost immediately joined the service again a Major of the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry(colored) and entered Richmond April 6, 1865. After the war he resumed his studies at the Lawrence Scientific School, then going to Harvard Medical School, which he graduated in 1868. He studied in Europe for three years and returned to Boston with his wife in September 1871.He became a assistant professor of physiology at Harvard Medical School,and later became dean. He also set up the first physiology laboratory in the United States. From 1877-1881 was a member of the Boston School Committee, 1895-1902 trustee of the Boston Public Library,and president of Boston Children's Aid Society, elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1872. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, National Academy of Sciences,Royal Society of Medicine and Natural Science of Brussels, Academy of Science of Rome. The University of Cambridge made him Doctor of Sciencein 1898, and Edinburgh 1898, Toronto 1903, Pennsylvania 1904, and Harvard gave him the degree of Doctor of Laws in 1906.

From A&E Biography

Physiologist, born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. (grandson of Nathaniel Bowditch). After serving in the Civil War, he studied medicine at Harvard, and in Paris and Leipzig. While studying in Germany in 1871, he discovered the heart's "all or nothing' contractile property and the affect of delphinine on cardiac contractions. He returned to join the faculty of the Harvard Medical School (1871--1906). In 1885, he proved that nerve fiber cannot be tired out and he conducted experiments using curare that led to nerve-blocking during surgery.

Henry Pickering Bowditch was chosen the first President of APS at the organizational meeting in 1887. He served in 1888 and again from 1891 to 1895, a total of six years. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Bowditch studied physiology with Barnard in France and Ludwig in Germany. Appointed assistant professor of physiology at Harvard Medical School in 1871, he established the first university laboratory of experimental physiology in America. Several of the charter members of APS, among them F. W. Ellis, G. S. Hall, W.P. Lombard, C. S. Minot, I. Ott, and J. W. Warren, had worked with him in his laboratory. His research touched on a wide variety of subjects including the in defatigability of nerves, the function of cardiac muscle, ciliary motion, the knee-jerk response, and the growth of children.


Dr. Henry Pickering Bowditch was principally concerned with the research aspects of medicine rather than the medical or surgical treatment of patients, and the school’s new Boylston Street facility with five separate laboratories mirrored his interests. Harvard became the first American medical school to offer instruction in pathology and bacteriology, and embryology began to be taught in conjunction with histology. During and after Bowditch’s tenure as Dean, the size of the student body increased from 270 students in 1889, to more than 500 in the mid-1890s, and nearly 600 by the turn of the century. The size of the Faculty of Medicine also increased.

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Maj. Henry Pickering Bowditch M.D.'s Timeline

April 4, 1840
Canton, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States
January 1873
Age 32
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
May 19, 1874
Age 34
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
September 2, 1878
Age 38
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
October 31, 1880
Age 40
October 31, 1880
Age 40
Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
June 8, 1883
Age 43
Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
September 18, 1890
Age 50
March 13, 1911
Age 70
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States