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Certificate confirming attendance to lectures on anatomy and surgery, London, England, 1830

This certificate was presented to Thomas George Slaughter to confirm that between 1826 and 1828, he attended lectures in anatomy, physiology, pathology and surgery at the Theatre of Anatomy in Great Windmill Street, London. In 1822, Slaughter, the son of a surgeon, had agreed to a seven-year apprenticeship under a Richard Painter to learn the trade of an apothecary. It is assumed that attending these lectures formed part of that training. William Hunter (1718-1783) – who is pictured on the certificate – had opened a medical school in his home in 1768. Hunter was an anatomist and midwife who advocated teaching anatomy by the ‘Parisian’ method, which involved active ‘hands-on’ dissections of dead bodies. Before the school opened the only places licensed to dissect were the Barber-Surgeon’s Hall and the Royal College of Physicians. (This is not to say that unauthorised dissections did not occur elsewhere.)

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Glossary: certificate

Documents giving authoritative recognition of a fact, qualification, or promise

Glossary: medical education

Medical education is education related to the practice of being a medical practitioner, either the initial training to become a doctor (i.e., medical school and internship) or additional training thereafter (e.g., residency and fellowship.)

Glossary: apprenticeship

An agreement where a person learns a trade from a skilled worker over a fixed period of time.