Medicine, Education and Science

Hahnemann Hospital – renamed to Allegheny University Hospital – Hahnemann

15th and Race Streets, Philadelphia

Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, for whom the medical college was named, is the founder of homoeopathic medicine. Dr. Constantine Hering is acknowledged as the father of homoeopathy in America.

Dr. Constantine Hering was born in Oschatz,Saxony onJanuary 1, 1800. He studied natural history, and in 1817 he studied surgery at an academy in Dresden. In 1820 he studied medicine in Leipzig. “At Würzburg he continued the study of medicine under the famous Schönlein, the pathologist, and graduated with the highest honors of the university, receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1826, after a severe medical examination made more severe on account of his acknowledged devotion to homoeopathy.” “He began the practice of homoeopathy, and he no longer suffered want. (His student life was a constant struggle with poverty.) He taught the natural sciences and mathematics in the Blochmann Institute in Dresden, and in 1827 joined a botanical and zoological expedition under the protection of the King of Saxony to Surinam and Cayenne in South America. He remained in Surinam six years in charge of the zoological department of the expedition. … He (later) affiliated with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and made for the academy a cabinet of valuable collections and discoveries.”

In January 1833, he reached Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and immediately journeyed to Philadelphia, where he remained the rest of his life. In 1834, he co-founded a homoeopathic school of instruction in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which he served as president and principal instructor. “He taught the principles of Hahnemann, practiced upon the sick, wrote books and pamphlets, caused German textbooks to be translated, and thus became the cornerstone around which and upon which his assistants and co-laborers clustered and leaned for support.” A financial crisis in 1843 forced the school to close. He continued his practice in Philadelphia and “in 1848 he assisted in founding the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, and in 1867 the rival Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which latter institution he was Professor of Institutes and Materia Medica, 1867-69, and Professor Emeritus, 1869-1880.” (German-American Families in the United States: Hering Family, in the archives of Allegheny University Hospital, 139-141) “In 1869, the Homoeopathic College of Pennsylvania merged with the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia, Dr. Hering being professor of Institutes and Materia Medica from 1869 to 1871.” (Arthur M. Eastman, M.D., Life and Reminiscences of Dr. Constantine Hering, Philadelphia, 1917: 6)

Lankenau Hospital, formerly The German Hospital
Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

Image11“The German Hospital of the City of Philadelphia, founded by physicians and merchants of German heritage, was chartered in 1860 to provide a place where the German-speaking populace could be treated by persons speaking their language.
For five decades, the hospital retained strong ties with Germany. Since Germany led the world in medicine at that time, these ties contributed to the institution’s early excellence.

Among the medical advances which the hospital introduced to Philadelphia were: the city’s first bacteriological and chemical research laboratory (1889); Koch’s treatment for tuberculosis (1890); the bath treatment for typhoid fever (1890); Behring’s diphtheria serum (1894); x-ray (1896).

Another innovation imported from Germany was the idea of insuring against hospital costs. The hospital’s original bylaws specified: ‘Unmarried persons paying regularly 25 cents a month shall be entitled to free admission as patients’ – thus creating America’s first hospitalization insurance.

Also imported from Germany, in 1884, was a band of seven Lutheran Deaconesses to take charge of the hospital’s household and nursing service. Trained at Kaiserswerth, where Florence Nightingale receiving her training, the Deaconesses soon earned for the hospital a reputation for superior nursing care. In 1899, the Deaconesses established the School of Nursing which is still in existence.

Chief architect of the hospital’s early growth and development was a successful German-born (Bremen) Philadelphia merchant, John D. Lankenau. Initially, proposed for the board of trustees by his father-in-law, banker Francis M. (Franz Martin) Drexel (the hospital’s first treasurer), Mr. Lankenau was elected president of the Board in 1869. From then until his death 32 years later, the hospital was his major interest. He gave unstintingly of his wealth and wisdom during his lifetime. When he died he bequeathed a generous endowment to carry on his work. The hospital was renamed in his honor in March 1917, on the 100th anniversary of his birth.” (A History of The Lankenau Hospital, published by The Lankenau Hospital) Mr. Drexel had also “been one of the chief contributors of the institution.” (Albert G. Miller, A.M., M.D., History of The German Hospital of Philadelphia and its Ex-Resident Physicians, Philadelphia: Lippincott Company, 1905-6)

Holy Redeemer Hospital and Medical Center
Huntingdon Pike, Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania

“In 1924, the first twelve Sisters of the Holy Redeemer came from Germany to America at the request of the Xaverian Brothers.” (In Würzburg, these sisters “served the sick and poor in their homes and worked selflessly in hospitals and homes for the aged. They taught children in kindergartens and grade schools. They provided domestic help and nursing services to students and seminarians in priests’ seminaries.”)Image10
“In 1926, they branched out to St. Mary’s Hall, the Augustinian seminary in Villanova, Pennsylvania, where their services were required as domestics and infirmarians. This was the Sisters’ first mission in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Two years later, eight more Sisters arrived in Philadelphia and established a convent in St. Henry’s Parish on 5th Street, which soon came to be known as the home of the nursing sisters.”

“In 1931, the Sisters’ services were requested at Drueding Infirmary in North Philadelphia. These thirteen sisters were the sixth group from the German Congregation to come to American to establish missions. They staffed the full-service hospital built by Charles and Henry Drueding for the employees of the Drueding Brothers Manufacturing Company. In 1934, as the American community of the Sisters grew”, the Sisters’ Motherhouse was moved from 5th Street in Philadelphia to a donated 45-acre farm in Meadowbrook with rundown buildings in need of repair and overgrown fields. The Sisters had saved enough from their earnings at Drueding Infirmary to pay for the materials they needed to make repairs, but little else. To them, nothing was impossible with God’s help, so they set about clearing the fields and repairing the buildings themselves, to the amazement of the area residents. When the Sisters finished clearing the land, they began planning how they could share what they had with others.”

“In this spirit of sharing, the Sisters established St. Joseph’s Manor to provide for the physical and spiritual comfort and security of the elderly. The Sisters’ vision of providing health care to those in need did not stop at St. Joseph’s Manor. In essence, the idea of building a hospital was carried with the first Sisters from their German homeland to their beginnings in the United States in 1924. Their dreams of a hospital eventually began to take substance in the mid-1950’s. By then, the Congregation was deeply entrenched in Philadelphia health care and services.”

“Holy Redeemer Hospital and Medical Center, as it is now called, continues to grow and respond to the community’s changing and increasing health care requirements.” (Ministering to Humanity: A Historical Perspective on the Ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer 1849-1992: 1992) It provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient medical services, supported by modern facilities and over 300 physician specialists.

Wister Institute at the University of Pennsylvania
Spruce Street, Philadelphia

The inscription on the family tree plaque in the Wistar Institute lobby, which was founded by Isaac Wister in 1892 reads to “sustain the scientific research and discovery that are a hallmark of our nation’s oldest private biomedical research institution.” Image12
“The Wistar name was one of great influence and importance in Philadelphia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The progenitor of the American Wistars was Caspar, who came to the United States from his homeland near Wald Hilsbach, Baden, in 1717 and established in New Jersey what is believed to be the first glass factory in the colonies.” (James Crutchfield, “German-American Yesteryears”, German Life, February/March 1997: 50) He spelled his named Wüster, “but was registered here by a careless clerk as ‘Wistar.’ When Caspar’s younger brother, John, arrived ten years later, he was registered with yet a different surname: “Wister.” To this day there exist two spellings of the family name.

Caspar Wistar became an expert maker of brass buttons, guaranteed to last for seven years. He then opened the first successful glassmaking factory in the colonies, near Salem, New Jersey, producing such utilitarian items as bottles, windowpanes, and tableware.

Caspar Wistar’s son Richard and his wife had five sons, the youngest of whom, born in 1761, was the Caspar Wistar after whom The Wistar Institute was named. A practicing Quaker and a pacifist, he would not enter battle during the Revolution; rather, he administered relief to those who were injured.

Caspar Wistar pursued medical studies in Edinburgh, receiving his M.D. degree after delivering a 44-page doctoral dissertation in perfect Latin. In 1787 he returned to Philadelphia to engage in the practice of medicine, quickly earning renown for his professional knowledge and deep humanity. But Dr. Wistar’s greatest fame was as a teacher. He became a professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1808 succeeded his mentor, the great William Shippen, physician to George Washington, in the chair of anatomy.

Cultivated in the humanities as well as the sciences, Dr. Wistar had a breadth of knowledge and superb oratorical skills that attracted medical students from every part of the Union. He reached still larger audiences through his book on anatomy, the first standard American text in this field.

In 1815 Dr. Wistar succeeded his good friend Thomas Jefferson as president of the nation’s preeminent organization devoted to the diffusion of knowledge: the American Philosophical Society.”

“One of Dr. Caspar Wistar’s most important innovations was the use of models of human anatomical features as teaching aids.” “Two years before his death (in 1818) Caspar Wistar had appointed a young physician, William Edmonds Horner, to be custodian of certain wooden models of human anatomical features. These models had been made for Wistar by sculptor William Rush as an adjunct to his teaching; along with the models he used dried and wax-injected human limbs and organs. Horner enlarged the collection with his own holdings of skeletal materials and skulls, bequeathing the entirety to the University upon his death. By then it was known as the Wistar and Horner Museum.

By 1890 the Wistar and Horner Museum collections, which were housed in Penn’s Logan Hall, were in sad shape after years of neglect and a serious fire. Isaac Jones Wistar, Dr. Caspar Wistar’s great-nephew, “was approached by Provost William Pepper for a donation to revitalize the collection, and initially he responded with a pledge of $250. Soon, however — recognizing the importance of the collection and the opportunity to honor the great-uncle he had never known — Isaac Wistar decided to fully sponsor the restoration of the museum and to establish an institution organized around it, independent but with strong links to the University.

In addition to housing a museum, the new institute, under the governance of a board of managers, would be free to initiate ‘any other work for the increase of original scientific knowledge.’ Although the year of its founding was 1892, The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology did not formally open its doors until 21 May 1894.” (Wistarabilia: A Centennial History of The Wistar Institute, May 1994: 2-7.)

“The Wistar Institute today has nearly 400 staff members, including about 130 doctoral-level scientists who occupy more than 50 laboratories. Working in the Institute’s original 1894 building and its more recent extensions, Wistar scientists carry out multi-disciplinary investigations of all types of cancer and viral, autoimmune, and degenerative diseases.” (Wistarabilia, p. 16)

One final note on the Wisters. Wisteria, a well-known climbing shrub native to the American South, is named in honor of Dr. Caspar Wistar. (James Crutchfield, “German-American Yesteryears”, German Life, February/March 1997: 50)

Drexel University
34th and Market Streets, Philadelphia

Photo courtesy Marlene H. K. Stocks

Anthony J. Drexel, the son of Franz Martin Drexel of Tyrol, Austria, founded the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry (German Achievements in America: Rudolf Cronau’s Survey, Don Heinrich Tolzmann, editor, 1995: 216), in 1891 with an original gift of $1,000,000. It has risen to college ranks and is now called Drexel University. (Herman LeRoy Collins, A.M., Litt D., Philadelphia: A Story of Progress, volume 2, Philadelphia: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1941, 81.) Drexel was an international financier and first President of the Fairmount Park Art Association.

“The sculpture of Drexel, cast in Germany, was unveiled on June 17, 1905, at Belmont and Lansdowne Avenues (Fairmount Park). In 1966 it was moved to the Drexel University campus and installed near the library.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992, 210)

Academy of Natural Sciences
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

“Gerhard Troost, a pupil of the famous mining academy at Freiburg, Saxony, was the first who lectured in America on geology. From 1810-1827 he was professor of mineralogy in the Philadelphia Museum, and was also the founder and first president of the Academy of Natural Sciences. (German Achievements in America: Rudolf Cronau’s Survey, Don Heinrich Tolzmann, editor, 1995: 130 – 131)

Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

“Samuel Fels is perhaps best known in Philadelphia for his donation of a fully equipped planetarium to The Franklin Institute. At The Wistar Institute, however, he is remembered for his commitment to scientific research, his philanthrophy and his 28-year participation on The Wistar Board until his death at the age of ninety in 1950.

Samuel was born to Lazarus Fels, a Bavarian immigrant who began a small soap manufacturing company in Philadelphia in 1876. Samuel and his brother, Joseph, joined the business in 1881 when their father opened a branch on Arch Street. (Wistar Focus, Vol. 4, No.1, March 1997: 6)

The Fels Planetarium was “one of the first erected in the United States and one of theworld’s largest.” (Herman LeRoy Collins, A.M., Litt D., Philadelphia: A Story of Progress, volume 2, Philadelphia: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1941, 135.