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The colonies’ first medical degree

The colonies’ first medical degree

A London surgeon and physician sought a Yale degree as part of his quest for upward mobility.

In 1723 Yale granted the first medical degree issued in the American colonies to Daniel Turner (1667–1741), a London surgeon-turned-physician who had neither attended Yale College nor even set foot in North America. Moreover, Yale would not have a medical school for nearly another century.The story has been extensively documented by Philip K. Wilson, Ph.D., of the Penn State University College of Medicine, and much of this account is based on his work. It begins with a parcel of 25 books that Turner shipped across the Atlantic in September 1722 as a gift to Yale. He was not the typical gentleman benefactor. In truth, Turner was not even a gentleman by the standards of 18th-century Britain. Born a tradesman’s...

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