FYI November 04, 2017

1847 – Sir James Young Simpson, a Scottish physician, discovers the anaesthetic properties of chloroform.
Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet (7 June 1811 – 6 May 1870) was a Scottish obstetrician and a significant figure in the history of medicine. Simpson was the first physician to demonstrate the anaesthetic properties of chloroform on humans and helped to popularise the drug for use in medicine.[1]

Simpson completed his final examination at the age of 18 but, as he was underage, he had to wait two years before he gained his licence to practise medicine. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1832[2] and as a student became a member and then Senior President of the Royal Medical Society, initiating a lifelong interest in the Society’s advancement.[3] In 1838, he designed the Air Tractor, the earliest known vacuum extractor to assist childbirth but the method did not become popular until the invention of the ventouse over a century later.[4]

At the age of 28, he succeeded James Hamilton as Professor of Medicine and Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh.[5] He improved the design of obstetric forceps that to this day are known in obstetric circles as “Simpson’s Forceps”. His most significant contribution was the introduction of anaesthesia to childbirth.

Simpson’s intellectual interests ranged from archaeology to an almost taboo subject at the time: hermaphroditism. He was a very early advocate of the use of midwives in the hospital environment. Many prominent women also consulted him for their gynaecological problems. Simpson wrote Homœopathy, its Tenets and Tendencies refuting the ideas put forward by Hahnemann.[6]

It was his achievements and wide ranging interests that led to his town house at 52 Queen Street, Edinburgh being a gathering point for many members of society, especially intellectuals. His impish sense of humour got the better of him on at least one of these occasions when he seated a Southern US slave owner next to a freed slave at the dinner table. Since this town house was fairly busy at times, Simpson preferred to keep his wife and children at their country house near Bathgate. In religion Simpson was a devout adherent of the Free Church of Scotland, but he refused to sign the Westminster Confession of Faith, because of what he believed to be its literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.[7]

Simpson was a close friend of Sir David Brewster, and was present at his deathbed.

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1928 – Hannah Weiner, American poet and author (d. 1997)
Hannah Adelle Weiner (née Finegold) (4 November 1928 – 11 September 1997) was an American poet who is often grouped with the Language poets because of the prominent place she assumed in the poetics of that group.

Early life and writings
Weiner was born in Providence, Rhode Island and attended Classical High School, until 1946, and then Radcliffe College.[1] She graduated with a B.A. in 1950, with a dissertation on Henry James. Working in publishing and then in Bloomingdale’s department store, she was married and then divorced after four years. Weiner started writing poetry in 1963 though her first chapbook, The Magritte Poems after René Magritte, was published in 1970. It is not indicative of her latter work, being “basically a New York School attempt to write verse in response to the paintings of René Magritte”.[2] During the 1960s she also organized and participated in a number of happenings with other members of the New York City art scene, where she had been living for some time. These included ‘Hannah Weiner at Her Job’, “a sort of open house hosted by her employer, A.H. Schreiber Co., Inc.”[2] and ‘Fashion Show Poetry Event’ with Eduardo Costa, John Perreault, Andy Warhol and others in a “collaborative and innovative enterprise that incorporated conceptual art, design, poetry and performance.”[3]

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