Jacob Bigelow, M. D., LL. D., an American physician and writer, born in Sudbury, Mass., in 1787. He graduated at Harvard university in 1806, and commenced practice in Boston in 1810. He early became known as a skilful botanist, had an extensive correspondence with European botanists, and different plants were named for him by Sir J. E. Smith, in the supplement to "Rees's Cyclopaedia," by Schrader in Germany, and De Candolle in France. He published Florida Bostoniensis (8vo, 1814; enlarged eds., 1824 and 1840), and " American Medical Botany " (3 vols. 8vo, 1817-'21). For more than 40 years he was an active practitioner of medicine in Boston; during half of this time he was a physician of the Massachusetts general hospital, and held the offices of professor of materia medica and of clinical medicine in Harvard university. He also for 10 years (1816-27) delivered lectures on the application of science to the useful arts, at Cambridge, as Rumford professor; these were afterward published uncler the title of "Elements of Technology" (new ed., "The Useful Arts considered in connection with the Applications of Science," 2 vols. 12mo, 1840). He was one of the committee of five selected in 1820 to form the "American Pharmacopoeia;" and the nomenclature of the materia medica afterward adopted by the British colleges, which substituted a single for a double word when practicable, is due in principle to him.
He has published numerous medical essays and discourses, some of which are embodied in a volume entitled "Nature in Disease" 1854); one of these essays, "A Discourse on Self-Limited Diseases," delivered before the Massachusetts medical society in 1835, had unquestionably a great influence in modifying the practice of physicians at that time and since. He was the founder of Mt. Auburn cemetery, near Boston, the first establishment of the kind in the United States, and the model of those which have followed; the much admired stone tower, chapel, gate, and fence were all made after his designs. He has the reputation of an accomplished classical scholar, and has been an occasional contributor to the literary periodicals and reviews; he is an excellent humorous writer both in prose and verse, and a volume of poems, entitled "Eolopoesis," has been attributed to him. He was for many years the president of the Massachusetts medical society, and of the American academy of arts and sciences. In commemoration of his services, the trustees of the hospital in 1856 ordered his marble bust to be placed in the hall of that institution.
Since his retirement from active practice he has given much thought to matters of education, and has been specially interested in technological schools, or such as are to give a technical or utilitarian education as contrasted with a classical or literary one. He has been a pioneer in the so-called "new education," which aims to employ the time and labor of the student in the pursuit of special technical branches of knowledge, without wasting his energy on classical or other subjects irrelevant to his special vocation. See an address delivered by him in 1865, before the Massachusetts institute of technology, "On the Limits of Education."