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Joseph Janvier Woodward

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph J. Woodward was a nineteenth century United States Army surgeon who made major contributions to medicine during the Civil War and greatly advanced the use of photography through the microscope (photomicrography). Woodward was determined to become more efficient in the study of pathology by employing the use of optical microscopy and photomicrography to examine and record both whole mounts and thin sections of human tissue.

It is widely reported that Woodward produced the finest photomicrographs of the period, which he distributed widely to help improve diagnosis by his fellow doctors. Woodward was the first scientist to establish photomicrography as a tool for both scientific and medical investigations.

Woodward was very successful in disseminating the information that he recorded with photomicrography. He produced handsomely mounted sets of photomicrographs, which he sent to microscopists around the world and to the major microscopical societies, including the Quekett Microscopical Club and the Royal Microscopical Society in England. These societies still hold substantial collections of Woodward's work.

Although microscopy was still in its infancy, by 1870, Woodward and others had established photomicrography as a means of keeping permanent records of phenomena recorded with optical microscopes. At the time, woodcut engravings were the normal method of producing illustrations, but Woodward was instrumental in advancing optical micrographs to explain various topics such as resolution in fine line gratings and detail in microscopic organisms.

This biography is based, in part, on the fine works on the history of the microscope including Essays on the History of the Microscope by G. L' E. Turner of London.


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