Biography of Bushrod Washington James, A.M., M.D., LL.D.
Published in Transactions of the American Microscopical Society
Blackwell Publishing, Volume 25, September 1904, Pages 160-162
For several successive generations the James family, from which Dr. James was descended, has resided in America. His paternal great-great-great-grandfather, David James, came from Wales, accompanying William Penn, and located in Radnor Township, Montgomery Co., Pa. He purchased an extensive tract of land where Bryn Mawr and Rosemont are now located. Dr. James’ grandfather, Dr. Isaac James, was a physician, who lived to the advanced age of ninety-seven. One of his uncles, Dr. Thomas P. James, of Cambridge, Mass., was an eminent botanist and bryologist and a great authority on mosses. The Doctor’s father was David James, M.D., a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, who was one of the pioneers of homoeopathy in Philadelphia.
Dr. Bushrod Washington James was born in the city of Philadelphia, August 25, 1836. His father gave him a careful and liberal education. In 1857 he graduated from the Homoeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, receiving therefrom the degree of M.D. and H.M.D. The faculty on his graduation placed him in charge of the large dispensary connected with the college. Subsequently he originated a surgical infirmary and mainly supported it for years by his own efforts and energy and that of two of his friends. He located at the northeast corner of 18th and Wallace streets in Philadelphia and has ever since resided in that section of the city. His connections with various societies, medical, scientific, and literary, have been and still are numerous, and he has also been connected with various medical institutions, serving in one as professor. For seven years he was attending physician to the Northern Home for Friendless Children. He here obtained a very valuable experience in diseases of the eye, having treated several hundred cases of contagious ophthalmia without loss of vision in any case. He has been for seventeen years eye clinician at the Children’s Homoeopathic Hospital.
In 1867, Dr. James visited Paris as a national delegate from the American Institute of Homoeopathy to the French Homoeopathic Medical Congress, to which he presented a medical essay. In 1881 he attended the International Homoeopathic Medical Convention, held in London, before which he read a paper on iritis. He also attended the World’s Medical Congress, London, held the same year. During the Centennial year, 1876, he was a member of, read a paper before, and took other active part in the proceedings of the first International Homoeopathic Convention, which was held in Philadelphia. In 1873 he was President of the Pennsylvania State Homoeopathic Medical Society, and in 1883, at Niagara, he was President of the National Society of the American Institute of Homoeopathy. For seventeen years he was Surgical Editor and Sanitary Science Editor of the then American Observer of Detroit. For several years he was President of the American Literary Union and also of the Hahnemann Club in Philadelphia. He was for years President of the Children’s Homoeopathic Hospital of Philadelphia, and was previously President of its Medical Board. He was one of the consulting physicians in the Hahnemann Hospital of Philadelphia, a member of the advisory board of the Hahnemann Medical College, and for twenty-five years also one of the trustees of the Spring Garden Institute. At one time he filled for several years the chair of physiology, sanitary science and climatology in the New York Medical College for Women of the University of New York. Professor James was a member of the American Public Health Association, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of the American Micorscopical Society and of the Senate of Seniors of the American Institute of Homoeopathy, and Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Fish and Game Protective Association, and a member of the American Fisheries Association for the care of the food-fishing interests in the United States.
During the Civil War he was a member of the Christian Commission, and was a volunteer surgeon on the battlefields of Antietam and Gettysburg, and a surgeon in one of the army hospitals of Philadelphia. In 1878 he was one of the Commission of Eleven appointed by the American Institute of Homoeopathy to investigate the yellow fever epidemic of that year and collect statistics of its treatment and mortality. He also belongs to several bodies of a general character, including the Masonic fraternity, Knights Templar, Masonic Veterans, the Union League, the Horticultural Society, the Franklin Institute, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Sons of the Revolution, the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Authors’ Guild of America.
As a writer he achieved some distinction. From 1880 to 1888 he was business manager of the Hahnemannian Monthly and did much to raise the literary and general character and increase the circulation and value of that periodical. Dr. James was the author of “Alaskana, or Legends of Alaska,” now in its third edition. This is written in the Finnish style of Longfellow’s Hiawatha. It is a beautiful literary production and has many graphic descriptions of the life of people of Alaska and the sublime scenery of that region. He has also written several books and pamphlets on that region. He has also written several books and pamphlets on that region, being an ardent believer in its great future. Dr. James visited Alaska and all section of the United States and British America, and Newfoundland. He was a great traveler, visiting many foreign places, especially in Mexico, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Another of his productions entitled “American Resorts and Climates,” is a scientific description of the resorts of this country. The “Dawn of a New Era in America,” touches upon some of the live political issues of the day. As an author, he combined the accurate conceptions of science with the charms of poetry and philosophy. As a physician, his rare attainments, long years of experience and connection with the principal medical societies of the age made him justly prominent in his profession.
He was stricken with pneumonia a year ago and recovered sufficiently to return home, but never regained his strength, and after a long illness he died January 7, 1903, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. He was never married. In him this society has lost an active and efficient member and the state a valuable and much honored citizen.