A New Treatise on French Pronunciation; or, A Series of Rules by which Every Person Acquainted with the English Language may Readily Ascertain the French Pronunciation . . . by Mons. B. F. Bugard, Professor. Language, Bugard, African American, Bertrand François.

A New Treatise on French Pronunciation; or, A Series of Rules by which Every Person Acquainted with the English Language may Readily Ascertain the French Pronunciation . . . by Mons. B. F. Bugard, Professor.

Philadelphia: Marshall, Clark and Co.; Providence: Marshall, Brown and Co., 1833. First edition. 8vo, original blue muslin, 79, [1] pages. Spine sunned and faded; some light rubbing, some light scattered foxing; a very good copy. Item #19146

One piece of a puzzle that may lead to the first student of African descent to have graduated from Harvard Medical School. Alumni publications list Bertrand François Bugard was a member of the Harvard Medical School class of 1839, and that sometime after graduation he had gone to Haiti. (See the Harvard Graduates’ Magazine, vol. 20, 1911-1912, which in September, 1911, which notes the probability of Bugard’s decease in a review of alumni.) This mention of Haiti has put scholars on the hare of the possibility of African descent; see the speculation of Nora Nercessian, author of Against All Odds: The Legacy of Students of African Descent at Harvard Medical School Before Affirmative Action, 1850-1968 (Harvard Medical School, 2004), which notes that Bugard listed his home address as Haiti. (Though passenger lists have a Bertrand Francois Burgard arriving in New Orleans in October, 1824 on the Brig Rose in Bloom out of Bordeaux; presumably the ship would have stopped in Haiti and allowed Bugard to embark there.) Nercessian speculates further in an interview with the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin in 2005 that Bugard would have been unlikely to have returned to a post-revolutionary Haiti had he been a white Frenchman—though the date of his return is unclear, and may have come sometime after the death of his wife, Almira Jacobs Bugard in 1871. Even if of mixed-race ancestry, Bugard likely would have been passing as white in the United States; if the D.A.R. status of his wife were not enough, his membership in the Middlesex Masonic Lodge suggests acceptance, and is attested to in an account of an 1842 celebration in Framingham (Bugard offered a toast to “Our suffering Brethren at Hayti. Their misfortunes excite the strongest sympathy in our hearts: let our generosity show to the world, that the name of Brother, is not an empty name, and that distance, creed or color, are no obstacle to the practice of the charitable principles which constitute the Corner Stone of our Institution.”) Further to this idea of at the very least silence on his race, the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1918), under an entry for New York lawyer Thomas Bugard Paton notes that Bugard as Paton’s grandfather, and calls him “a noted French physician in Boston.” Whatever his derivation, Bugard’s medical interests merit passing mention in an article on the pioneer French mesmerist in America, Charles Poyen, who evidently had taught Bugard medical mesmerism (along with Thomas Low Nichols), and that “Bugard was the hypnotist in what was probably the first case of hypnotic anaesthesia in the United States when on 28 June 1836 a tooth was pulled from a 12-year-old girl without any evident pain” (Carlson 125). Bugard seems of course prior to matriculation at Harvard to have supported himself as a French teacher, and the copyright information in this book suggests that in 1833 he was a resident in Providence (where this book was printed) and whatever his racial background, this certainly stands as a nice testimonial to the entrepreneurial industriousness of an immigrant with dreams of education in the United States. See Eric T. Carleson, “Charles Poyen Brings Mesmerism to America.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 15, no. 2 (1960): 121-32. See also Work Projects Administration Transcript of Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Lousiana, 1813-1849; Series: M2009; Roll #: 1. Title added to the upper board in contemporary autograph ink.

Price: $650.00