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John Curwen M. D.
CURWEN, M.D., JOHN, is a native of Lower
Merion township, Montgomery county, Pa.; received his collegiate
education at Yale College, and his medical education at the University
of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Shortly after graduation he was
appointed assistant physician of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the
Insane in Philadelphia, under the charge of Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride, and
remained there until the fall of 1849. After a year spent in the city of
Philadelphia, attending the hospitals and general practice, he was
elected in February, 1851, superintendent of the Pennsylvania State
Lunatic Hospital at Harrisburg, where he remained until February 11,
1881. Shortly after leaving that institution he was elected physician in
chief and superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane at Warren,
Pa., and assumed charge of the institution on July 7, 1881. He was one
of the original members of the Medical Society of Dauphin county, Pa.,
and is also a member of the Medical Society of Warren County, Pa.
He has been a member of the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania
since 1866; was president in 1868, and has been chairman of a number of
committees of that society, having reference to the care of the insane,
viz., the committee to memorialize the Legislature in favor of a
hospital for the insane for the northern district of the State, now
located at Danville; the committee to memorialize the Legislature in
favor of the law regulating the admission into hospital for the insane,
passed in 1869; to memorialize the Legislature in favor of a hospital
for insane criminals; to memorialize the Legislature in favor of the
hospital for the northwestern district of the State, now located at
Warren, Pa.; to memorialize the Legislature in favor of a hospital for
the southeastern district of the State.
The hospital now located at Norristown was established as the result of
that movement, but not as the memorialists had intended. He has been a
member of the American Medical Association for about twenty years, and
has read papers before that body on the care of the insane.
He has been a member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of
American Institutions for the Insane since 1851, and its secretary since
1858. He is also an honorary member of the British Medico-Psychological
Association, and of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia.
He was one of the commissioners for the erection of the State Hospital
for the Insane at Danville, Pa., and also for the erection of the State
Hospital for the Insane at Warren, Pa., and was also one of the
commission appointed by the Legislature to inquire into the condition of
insane criminals in Pennsylvania. He has been for many years one of the
trustees of Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.
In 1850 he prepared a manual for attendants in hospitals for the insane.
His principal writings have been the reports of the hospitals of which
he has been the superintendent; of the commissions on which he has
served; various papers and reports to the Medical Society of the State
of Pennsylvania, embodied in their proceedings, and papers read before
other societies, or printed in medical journals. He prepared also a
history of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American
Institutions for the Insane; a history of the original thirteen members
of that association, with photographs of each member, and a biographical
sketch of Thomas S. Kirkbride, M.D.
History of Warren County:
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent
Men and Pioneers, J. S. Schenck, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1887.
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