The Registre du Comite Medical de la Nouvelle Orleans is the record of the Eastern Board's (Comite Medical) work of examination and licensing of qualified physicians, surgeons, pharmacists and midwives from 1816 to 1854. The manuscript consists of 230 pages including an index of the names of the approximately 1200 people who came before the Comite Medicale petitioning for the right to practice medicine in Louisiana. As such, it is of interest to genealogists as well as medical historians. Even though it has an index it is somewhat cumbersome to use as the text of the document is handwritten in French. The names in the index are also handwritten and the user must search through all names that begin with a certain letter to locate names, as the names are not in alphabetical order. In order to find a specific entry, it is necessary to identify the proper page number from the personal name index, go to the page number index, display the page and read/print the appropriate entry.
A Review of Licensing Provisions in Louisiana, and the Significance of the Registre du Comite Medical de la Nouvelle Orleans.
Postell, William D., Sr. Typescript. Tulane Medical Library History Collection. No date.
Louisiana has consistently exercised more control over the practice of medicine than the Eastern seaboard states. During the Colonial period there were laws regulating the practice of medicine which were far in advance of their times. Between 1803 to 1812 the Territorial legislature enacted laws governing the practice of medicine and pharmacy, and these laws were surprisingly progressive. In 1816-17 the State revised the medical legislation establishing two medical licensing boards, one for the Eastern and Western districts of the State. Until 1852 these laws with some modification remained in effect. The 1816 measure provided both fines and imprisonment for anyone practicing medicine without a license. This law provided some check on the rise of quackery.
The 1816 law established a medical licensing board consisting of four physicians and one apothecary in New Orleans. Its first activity was to record it activities faithfully for 36 years of its existence. It also acted as a State Board of Health. This record was known as the Registre du Comite Medical de la Nouvelle Orleans, and this record is held in the Rudolph Matas Library of Tulane University.
In 1817 a second examining board was established known as the Western district. It was designated to hold meetings in Opelousas and Alexandria. The Eastern district was renamed, and its membership increased to six. In 1820 a law was enacted by declaring anyone with a regular medical degree could obtain a license without examination. The Western district was less effective, but the results of their meeting were recorded in the Notarial records at the Parish Court House where it met.