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Portraits - Professionals

Special contributions to human life have been made by people working in professional fields. One such profession is medicine, and historical medical portraits begin with the founders of medical practices, such as Hippocrates and Galen, and continuing to include the surgeon who pioneered the use of antiseptics, Joseph Lister, and the first US woman physician, Elizabeth Blackwell. Another important medical portrait is Florence Nightingale, who established nursing as a profession. Other distinguished contributors to health are the medical scientists who found ways to cure and prevent disease, notably Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, and bacteriologist Elie Metchnikoff. Another important person in a related medical profession is Clara Barton, who organized the American Red Cross, as shown in historical pictures.

Portraits of important historical scientists show those whose theories advanced our understanding the world around us. Theoretical foundations were laid by mathematicians, including Pythagoras, Archimedes, Blaise Pascal, Leonhard Euler, and Jacob Bernoulli. Of course, many mathematicians are also remembered for their contributions to physics and astronomy. Among the many brilliant physicists in history, none is more outstanding than Isaac Newton, known for his insights in many fields, including mechanics, optics, mathematics, astronomy, and theology. Many other prominent physicists have had multiple fields of accomplishment, for example, Thomas Young, trained as a medical doctor, and then, as an Egyptologist, helped decipher the Rosetta Stone; James Prescott Joule who carried on the family tradition as a brewer; Robert Boyle, also an alchemist and chemist, whose best-known work was on gases; Hans Christian Oersted also a chemist, who worked on electromagnetic theory; and Joseph Henry known also for serving as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Physicists who pioneered research into radioactivity include Ernest Rutherford, J.J. Thomson, Henri Bequerel, and Marie Curie. As seen in historical images, astronomers are often linked to the study of physics. Mapping and understanding the stars began in antiquity when Hipparchus observed the night sky from ancient Alexandria, quantifying the motions of the Sun and Moon. Great astronomers in history include Galileo, Copernicus, Johann Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Edmond Halley, Maria Mitchell

, and members of the Herschel family: William Herschel, Caroline Herschel, and John Herschel. Many of these great modern scientists were early Nobel Prize recipients.

Another area of physical science was studied by chemists, including Antoine Lavoisier, another multitalented 18th-century thinker, who wrote the first list of elements and was a rival of Joseph Priestley in the early study of oxygen. Lavoisier, also known for his work on the metric system and chemical nomenclature, was guillotined in the French Revolution. Priestley was as consumed with theology as with his chemical discovery that oxygen is what makes things burn, and he too suffered political unpopularity which caused him to emigrate from England to the US. As seen in historical pictures, biologists are at the center of natural science, beginning with Aristotle in ancient Greece, and extending to the theory of evolution by natural selection proposed by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. Darwinian theory followed the work of Georges Cuvier in establishing extinction as fact, demonstrating conclusively that many formerly existing species no longer exist, which helped explain the fossils discovered by paleontologists. Other naturalists include the taxonomist Linnaeus, the brilliant natural historian Buffon who observed that biodiversity is related to geography, the artist John James Audubon, professor Ernest Haeckel, and Richard Owen. Rounding out the science portraits are great inventors, whose creations have changed the routines of daily life throughout history. A steam engine was actually designed in antiquity by Hero of Alexandria, but a practical model was not engineered until the late 1700s when James Watt improved the Newcomen engine. Inventors who made steam power a practical energy source for transportation were Robert Fulton with his successful steamboat and George Stephenson with the steam railway. The Industrial Revolution featured innumerable inventions of machinery to replace manual labor for manufacturing everything from shoes to steel. Cyrus McCormick revolutionized farming with his mechanical reaper in 1847. Capping the 19th-century inventions were those of Thomas Edison, particularly his functional electric light, but also the phonograph and even the first movie camera, called a kinetoscope. Early photography soon became an art form enjoyed by average citizens due to the Kodak camera and film produced by George Eastman. The 20th century took flight in 1903 with the Wright Brothers in the first powered flight, giving rise to an entirely new industry and a new way of thinking about transportation.

Seen in historical portraits are important business leaders. Among these are merchants such as one who built a fur-trading empire, John Jacob Astor, as well as retailers like Marshall Field of Chicago and John Wanamaker of Philadelphia. Historical images of important financiers include John Pierpoint Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and railroad speculator Jay Gould. Some important industrialists who built American manufacturing were Samuel Slater, Andrew Carnegie, and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, as well as railroad barons such as Leland Stanford. Many of the wealthy industrialists later became prominent philanthropists, for instance, Russell Sage and Andrew Carnegie, as seen in historical pictures.

As seen in historical pictures, social reformers have driven institutional change. Some important reformers were the abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, the Quaker sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Senator Charles Sumner, and fearless conductors of the Underground Railroad like Harriet Tubman. Efforts to secure humane treatment for the indigent mentally ill were spearheaded by Dorothea Dix, and Jane Addams also championed the cause of the poor by creating a settlement house for immigrant families. Labor organizers are another important group of reformers shown in historical portraits, for example, Eugene V. Debs and Samuel Gompers. Women's rights advocates like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone gave rise to the suffragettes whose demonstrations finally resulted in voting rights for women. Also throughout history, social injustice has resulted in popular uprisings, usually spearheaded by an individual. Revolutionaries and other leaders of revolts include Guy Fawkes in England, Toussaint Louverture in Haiti, Father Hidalgo in Mexico, and Samuel Adams, Thomas Dorr, John Brown, and others in the US.

Educators are another group of professionals whose portraits are important, such as Horace Mann, called the father of American education. Particularly influential were those who established institutions of learning, such as Thomas Jefferson, who founded and designed the architecture of the University of Virginia; Nicholas Brown of Brown University; Eleazar Wheelock who founded Dartmouth College; Benjamin Rush who founded Dickinson College after the end of the Revolutionary War and named it to honor John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers; Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who co-founded the American School for the Deaf; Booker T. Washington, born a slave, who founded of Tuskegee Institute for the practical education of black people after the Civi War; and Samuel Chapman Armstrong, founder of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, primarily to educate freed African-Americans to become teachers, now known as Hampton University. There have also been remarkable professors and scholars, including Socrates, who have inspired students throughout history.


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