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United States Navy Dept. Board of Medicine and Surgery: Examination Papers Collection 1831-1860
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

The material as it was received came in two groups. The first group consisted of application materials and some examination essays for the period 1831 to 1847. Competence was demonstrated in part by the writing of an essay on a subject, the topic of which was selected by the President of the Examining Board. No recourse to books or other outside aids was allowed. Hence these themes demonstrate individual medical competency as well as the state of contemporary knowledge about smallpox, yellow fever, dropsy, colitis, tetanus, syphilis, and so on. Most of the folders for this period also contain biographical information, such as a letters from doctors describing their lives, education, training, and experience, and many contain letters attesting to their competence from other naval officers and physicians. A small group at the end consists solely of certifications of the date of birth of an applicant for whom there is no other information.

Section two of the collection was a continuation of the above series for the period 1859-1860. By this time applicants for promotion were, in addition to the autobiographical sketch and medical essay, also required to submit answers to twelve varied questions. These included "What is the condition of the lungs after drowning?", "What is Ship Fever?", "Describe the best mode for vaccination," "What is necrosis?", etc. The applicants answers to these questions are also found as part of the collection.

Biographical material can be found in each folder unless it carries the notation "essay only."