52 Documents in 52 Weeks #28: Is There a Doctor in the House?

Is there a doctor in your house: Today’s document tip is a two-parter. First, with the advent of more modern times and formal medical training, medical doctors had to file their license information at the local level where they were practicing medicine.

Medical Licenses of R.A. Bennett Jr. & M.P. Rucker Jr.
Bedford County, Virginia, 1912

Neither of these men is part of my or my husband’s family, but I would be thrilled if they were. Several  treasured tidbits are found in these documents:

  1. Their signatures
  2. Their exact dates and counties of birth
  3. The type of license they held: “allopathic medicine” which medicine.net defines as The system of medical practice which treats disease by the use of remedies which produce effects different from those produced by the disease under treatment. MDs practice allopathic medicine.
  4. Their residences
  5. Dates their licenses were issued

I found this medical register in the FamilySearch catalog under Bedford County, Virginia. If you have a doctor in your family, be sure to check under the Business category when you search resources or contact the local county court.

The second tip is to check with the AMA – American Medical Association – if you have a 20th century family member who was a medical doctor. I contacted them about historical information on a collateral ancestor of my husband’s who practiced medicine in Missouri during the middle of the 20th century. In return, I received a computer printout of his birth information, education, training, specialties and positions held throughout his career along with a copy of the medical journal page that listed his obituary. This was provided in spite of the fact that it said he was not an AMA member!

In summary, check to see what records are available at the county or town level, but also contact medical organizations like the American Medical Association to see if there is detailed information about your ancestor’s medical career.


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