Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Part 1: MD with an LLD Degree or Is It LLD with an MD Degree?

A distant cousin recently forwarded an email message asking for help in providing information about his/her ancestors. This individual is a descendant of Walter Graeme Eliot who authored several non-fiction books. I recall that in 1900 he authored a book, "Portraits of Noted Physicians of New York 1750-1900."

My daughter is a medical student so I often notice finding family having some connection to medicine. I was certain that this book would be out of copyright, so I took a chance and searched on Google Books. Happily, I found the book.

Walter's father, Augustus Eliot, was an obstetrician/gynecologist in the second half the 19th century in New York City. Thus, I was not surprised to find that Walter had authored such a book and was thoroughly expecting to find something about his father in this book. Walter did not disappoint me. In fact, he dedicated the book to his father.

As I perused the book, I was struck at the number of physicians who had an MD and an LLD degree. Of the 199 physicians included in the book, forty-two had earned both degrees. That means that 21% of these physicians also had an LLD degree.

I asked myself whether the physicians earned the law degree after becoming a physician or the other way around. My next step is to go back and capture this information to analyze it.

Two of the physicians in Walter Eliot's book did not have an MD degree. Over the years as I researched my family history, I came across relatives who became doctors because they studied under another practicing physician. I then wondered when did this practice stop?

Both of these questions are fodder for another blog.

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