American Medical Biographies/Worcester, Noah

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2388684American Medical Biographies — Worcester, Noah1920Henry Ebenezer Handerson

Worcester, Noah (1812–1847)

Noah Worcester, an early dermatologist of Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, was born in Thornton, New Hampshire, July 29, 1812, the son of a teacher of very moderate estate. He was compelled to provide largely for his education by teaching, and in this way struggled through Harvard College after an interrupted course of study of five years, 1827–1832; then settled in Hanover, New Hampshire, studied under R. D. Mussey (q.v.), matriculated in the medical department of Dartmouth College, and graduated there in 1838. He was at once appointed demonstrator of anatomy in his alma mater, and invited by Dr. Mussey to become his assistant. When, in the same year, Dr. Mussey accepted the chair of surgery in the Medical College of Ohio, Worcester was invited to accompany him and be his partner. Soon after his arrival in Cincinnati he received the chair of physical diagnosis in the Medical College of Ohio and in 1841 visited Europe and renewed his studies in London and Paris.

On his return to the United States in 1842 he married Jane Shedd, of Peacham, Vermont, an old sweetheart, well advanced in pulmonary tuberculosis, a disease which terminated her life in the following year. Grief at her loss, and the intimate association and anxiety which preceded her death, wore heavily upon the health of her husband, and from this time Dr. Worcester was always an invalid and soon developed signs of undoubted tuberculosis. He was himself a firm believer in the infectiousness of that disease. In spite of waning health and strength, he struggled bravely to fulfil the duties of his profession, and in 1843 even accepted the chair of general pathology, physical diagnosis and diseases of the skin in the newly organized medical college of Cleveland. He was, however, never able to perform the work in spite of the generous and hearty aid afforded by his medical colleagues. For a year or two he lectured on diseases of the skin, but soon even this labor proved too great and he retired to Cincinnati, where he died of tuberculosis April 4, 1847.

We have from his pen "A Synopsis of the Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment of the more Common and Important Diseases of the Skin," Philadelphia, 1845.

From an Address by Jacob J. Delamater, Cleveland, Nov. 3, 1847.