Peter Parker (physician)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Peter Parker (1804 – 1888) was an American physician and a missionary who traveled extensively in Qing Dynasty China.

Lam Qua Portraits[1]

While in China, Parker also met with Lam Qua, a Western-trained Chinese painter. Parker commissioned Lam Qua to paint patients at the Canton Hospital with large tumors or other major deformities. Some of the paintings are part of a collection of Lam Qua's work held by the Peter Parker Collection at the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University. Parker left these portraits to the Pathology Department of the Yale Medical School, which later gave them to the Library.

Biography

Parker was born in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1804 to an orthodox Congregational family. His parents were farmers. Parker received a B.A. degree from Yale University in 1831, and his M.D. degree from the Yale Medical School, then called Medical Institution of Yale College, in 1834. In January 1834, he completed his theological studies at Yale and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

In February 1834, Parker traveled to Canton, where he had the distinction of being the first full-time Protestant medical missionary to China. In 1835, he opened in that city the Ophthalmic Hospital. Parker specialized in diseases of the eye, including cataracts, and also resected tumors. Parker also introduced Western anesthesia in the form of sulphuric ether. He served as president of the Medical Missionary Society of China after his mentor Thomas Richardson Colledge.

In 1844, Parker worked as Caleb Cushing's main interpreter during the negotiations of the Treaty of Wanghia with the Qing Empire. The treaty stipulated that it could be renegotiated after 12 years and in 1856, president Franklin Pierce sent Parker to China in order to revise the treaty and gain more concessions from the Qing Empire, but was eventually unsuccessful in this endeavor.



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