The Expenses of One of Harvard Medical School’s Early Graduates, Dated 1808, Listing the Cost of His “Medical Instruction”

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Established in 1782, Harvard Medical School began with a handful of students and a faculty of three. The first classes were held in Harvard Hall in Cambridge, long before the School’s iconic quadrangle was built in Boston. With each passing decade, the School’s faculty and trainees amassed knowledge and influence, shaping medicine...

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The Expenses of One of Harvard Medical School’s Early Graduates, Dated 1808, Listing the Cost of His “Medical Instruction”

Established in 1782, Harvard Medical School began with a handful of students and a faculty of three. The first classes were held in Harvard Hall in Cambridge, long before the School’s iconic quadrangle was built in Boston. With each passing decade, the School’s faculty and trainees amassed knowledge and influence, shaping medicine in the United States and beyond. Some community members—and their accomplishments—have assumed the status of legend.

Dr. William Perry was born in 1788 in Norton, Massachusetts, a farmer’s son. He headed to Union College in New York in 1807, but quickly decided to transfer to Harvard. On the trip home, he just happened to come upon a new-fangled invention called a steamship that was making one its first voyages down the Hudson River. Hopping aboard, William became one of the first people in America to ride on Robert Fulton’s steamship. He was the last surviving one. Perry was a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.

Document signed, December 20, 1808, signed by Caleb Gannett, the College steward, listing the expenses of the future Dr. Perry in his first quarter at Harvard, including rent, medical instruction, wood, and instruction.

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