Columbia University Medical Center

Alumnus Donates Early 19th-Century Surgical Kit to CUMC


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Frank R. Smith, a 1962 graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, has donated an early 19th-century surgical kit to Archives & Special Collections at the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library at Columbia University Medical Center.

“The kit is in beautiful condition, is almost complete, and has a wonderful association with Columbia University,” says Stephen Novak, head of Archives & Special Collections. A small plaque on the lid notes that it was a gift from John Anthon to Dr. Smith’s ancestor, Dr. David Hosack, in recognition of Dr. Hosack’s medical services “cheerfully & attentively rendered” to Mr. Anthon’s parents.

David HosackDr. Hosack (1769–1835) was an eminent early 19th-century American physician, scientist, and educator who served at various times as professor of botany, materia medica, medicine, and physiology at P&S. John Anthon (1784–1863) was a noted New York City lawyer and jurist who was the author of several volumes of legal case reports and a founder of the New York Law Institute. Anthon’s brother, Charles (1797–1867), was professor of classics at Columbia for more than 40 years and headmaster of the Columbia Preparatory School. He was widely known for his many Greek and Latin textbooks, which were best-sellers in their day.

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A book from G.C. Anthon’s medical library

The parents who were so attentively attended to by Dr. Hosack were George Christian (1734–1815) and Genevieve Jadot Anthon (1763–1821). The German-born George Christian Anthon was a surgeon in the British Army; he served in North America during the French and Indian War.  After the Peace of Paris in 1763, he was stationed as a surgeon in newly acquired Detroit. He remained in Detroit through the American Revolution and in 1786 moved to New York, where he practiced medicine until his death. He also had a Columbia connection, serving as a University Trustee from 1796 to 1815. In an added twist, several volumes from G.C. Anthon’s medical library are now held by Archives & Special Collections.

The surgical kit will be featured in a small exhibit on Lower Level 1 of the Hammer Health Sciences Center in January 2015.