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Letters to the Editor
Rush's Dissertation
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 6 page 29-29

As a volunteer at the National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Division, I was assigned to sort a large number of medical dissertations from European universities dating from the early 18th century. At that time, a dissertation was required for a medical degree.

Among the dissertations from Edinburgh University in Scotland, I found two copies of the medical dissertation of Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) written in Latin and titled Coctione Ciborum In Ventriculo, dealing with stomach digestion. Rush, who is considered the father of American psychiatry, wrote the first psychiatric textbook in America (1812).

Rush was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and apprenticed in medicine for six years with Dr. John Redmond in Philadelphia. He left for Edinburgh in 1766 and two years later was granted the medical degree. He returned to Philadelphia the following year to open his medical practice. He was a signee of the Declaration of Independence.

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