Item #7878 To the Public. Ahlenfeld, arcus.

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To the Public.

Cold Stream, Hampshire Co., VA: March 1840. Broadside, 9.5” x 7.5” on larger sheet (9.25” x 11.5”), with ornamental border. CONDITION: Very good, light wear and a couple creases at margins.

A rare broadside issued by a German-Jewish doctor in Virginia, defending himself against “unremitting hostility,” offering to show his Prussian and American diplomas, and providing professional character references from medical faculty at the University of Maryland.

Marcus Ahlenfeld was born in Bolkenheim, Silesia (in what is now the southwest of Poland) and obtained a medical degree in Berlin in 1832. He then emigrated to the United States, earning his MD at the University of Maryland in 1835. Ahlenfeld eventually established a successful practice, but this broadside attempting to combat “invidious and malicious individuals, who are harassing me in every way, and insidiously trying to injure my practice as a Physician, by their nefarious calumniations” shows that his success was hard won indeed. Beneath his summary of the “miserable reports, that are perversions of the most authentic facts” and his expression of impatient desperation at having to respond to such nonsense to begin with—“Were it not that I am a stranger in a foreign country, I would not have condescended to notice such vulgarities; but, as I am destitute of friends…”—Ahlenfeld provides two “certificates” of his professional character from medical professors, Horatio J. Jamieson and Nathan Ryno Smith, who in addition to his teaching and private practice later became known for inventing several surgical devices.

Ahlenfeld wrote his thesis at the University of Maryland in 1835 on venereal diseases and a broadside from the same year, by Professor Nathan Potter, vouches for him in spite of not having been “long enough in our country to acquire a perfect knowledge of our language,” as an intelligent and honorable man and a “distinguished” physician. A later broadside, printed by Ahlenfeld two years after the one offered here, shows local tensions coming to a head between Ahlenfeld and his neighbor, John Vance. Ahlenfeld was the grandfather of Jewish political and community activist Edna Goldsmith. He died in the 1850s.

OCLC lists just two copies of this broadside, at the Clements Library and the Library of Virginia. A third is held at the University of Pennsylvania.

Item #7878


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