Friday, March 13, 2009

19th Century Physicians License Records Reveal Important Data

One interesting record group in the Itawamba County Courthouse is the Physicians License Book 1 located in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. During 1882 a law was passed in Mississippi requiring all physicians to obtain a license to practice medicine in Mississippi and a copy of those licenses were to be filed in the county or counties where the physician practiced. This book in the courthouse in Fulton contains a transcript of the medical licenses for physicians recorded between 1882 and the early 1900’s. These license transcripts contain valuable information about the applicants including age, birthplace, educational information, address of applicant when the license was applied for and lists of character witnesses. Below is an example of the information found in this volume.

Transcript of License,
Issued to Dr. Joseph Thomas May
No. 71
Office of
Mississippi State Board of Health
Know all men by these presents, that Joseph Thomas May, who, according to his letter of application on file in this office was born in Mississippi, thirty eight years of age, who resides in Itawamba County and whose post office address is Tremont, and who has spent five years in professional studies under the supervision of ___ as preceptor, (whose post office address is ____ and who attended one course of lectures at Memphis Hospital Medical College…and has chosen as his school of practice that of the regular physician, and refers concerning his moral character to Stephen Gilmore of Tremont, Dr. D.A. Stone and Capt. J.H. Stone of Tremont and J.C. Cates and Newman Cayce of Fulton, Miss. has made application for license to practice medicine in the State of Mississippi and has been examined by the Board of __ of the First District … and received a favorable endorsement. Therefore, by authority granted in Section Nine of An Act to Regulate the Practice of Medicine in the State of Mississippi, approved February 28, A.D. 1882, the Board of Health of the State of Mississippi do hereby license the aforesaid Joseph Thomas May to practice Medicine in the State of Mississippi.

Issued by order of the Mississippi State Board of Health, this 14th day of June A.D. 1883.

Wirt Johnston
Secretary, Mississippi State Board of Health

Recorded June 25, 1883.

In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census of Itawamba County Joseph Thomas May is listed as Thomas May, age 9 in the household of William and Mary May and by 1900 he is listed in the Amory precinct of Monroe County as a physician.

In researching old Itawamba County records, don’t forget Physicians License Book 1 in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office.

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