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The Equine Veterinarian, circa 1895
The evolution of all the healing arts share similar beginnings, from husband and wife administering to each other and their children to the domestic animal owner administering to his stock. Some of those who were more successful and gained recognition, elected to practice their art for compensation and eventually called themselves "doctors".
Certain trades readily lent themselves to evolution, barber to surgeon, blacksmith and farrier to veterinary surgeon. Others who wanted to become "doctors", apprenticed to those who were. The very young United States had the added influence of European emigrant "practitioners" who had the advantage of an older evolutionary past.
Such was the process of veterinary medicine in 17th Century North America. Formal veterinary medical education in the United States began in private schools with the Veterinary College of Philadelphia in 1852.
Alexandre Francois Liautard (1835-1918), a Parisan veterinarian and medical doctor, emigrated to the United States in 1860. he was well trained and highly motivated and was the premier faculty member of the New York College of Veterinary Surgery in 1857. He led a faculty and student exodus in 1875 to establish the new American Veterinary College and Hospital in New York.
His program was a beacon for advancing urban veterinary medicine. In 1877 he became the editor of the AMERICAN VETERINARY REVIEW. Liautard was a tremendous force in uniting professional standards internationally and a strong proponent in establishing the United States Veterinary Medical Association in 1863 (eventually the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1898).
The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, established a unique system of education, research and service in agriculture and the mechanical arts. The first land grant college to open a veterinary program was Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, in 1879. Private schools could not provide the same quality for similar prices and many were forced to close.
It has often been said; "The history of the horse has been the history of civilization." After the American Civil War the mechanism of agriculture and the opening of the West, greatly increased the need for horses in large numbers to turn the wheels of commerce.
Much of the formative years of veterinary medicine have focused on equine surgery, advancing it's art to a greater degree than other areas of the profession. This rendering by Anne Crawford depicts some of the tools of the trade and is a wonderful representation of a time since past.