Parker, Peter

( 1804-1888 )
   pioneer medical missionary in China
   Peter Parker was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1804, and raised within the Congregational Church. He graduated from Yale University in 1831, but stayed on to win degrees in theology and medicine (1834). ordained a Presbyterian minister in January 1834, he left for China a month later with the support of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He settled in Canton, where in 1835 he opened an ophthalmic (and general) hospital. While treating a wide range of conditions, Parker specialized in diseases related to the eye. Among other firsts, he introduced anesthesia to China.
   in 1838, Parker led in forming the Medical Missionary Society in China. When forced out of China during the Opium War (1840-42) he used the time to advocate for medical missions within the Protestant community in North America and Europe.
   He returned to China with his wife (incidentally the first Western female allowed to reside in China). In 1844, he began to work part time to help U.S. Attorney General Caleb Cushing negotiate the first treaty between China and America. His diplomatic foray cost him his relationship with the American Board in 1847, but he continued to work as a doctor and as the American Commissioner and Minister to China.
   In 1857, Parker returned to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. He eventually reconciled with the American Board, and was named a corporate member. He died in January 1888.
   Further reading:
   ■ Eugene M. Blake, "Yale's First Opthalmologist - The Reverend Peter Parker, M.D.," Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 1931, 3(5): 387-396
   ■ T. R. Colledge and Peter Parker, Address and Minutes of Proceedings of the Medical Missionary Society Canton, China 1838 (Canton: Office of the Chinese Repository, 1838)
   ■ Edward C. Gulick, Peter Parker and the Opening of China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973)
   ■ Edward H. Hume, "Peter Parker and the Introduction of Anesthesia into China," Journal of the History of Medicine 1 (October 1946): 670-674
   ■ George B. Stevens, The Life, Letters, and Journals of the Rev. and Hon. Peter Parker, M.D., Missionary, Physician, Diplomatist, The Father of Medical Missions and Founder of the Ophthalmic Hospital in Canton (Boston/Chicago: Congregational Sunday-School and Publishing Society, 1896).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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