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William Douglass
(ca. 1691-1752)

William Douglass (ca. 1691-1752) was a Scottish physician and author born in East Lothian. His family had good connections, allowing him to study medicine (and presumably natural history) in Leiden and Paris. It was probably in the heady scientific atmosphere of Paris, with its great lecturing mineralogists and crystallographers and its dozens of superb collections, that Douglass developed an interest in minerals.

Following the completion of his studies Douglass crossed the Atlantic in 1716 to spend some time visiting with his relative, Gen. Douglass, in the West Indies, then settled in Boston in 1718. He is known to have possessed a mineral collection by 1720. Considering that the West Indies are not a mineralogically rich collecting area, and that his first years in Boston would have required much of his time for the establishment of his medical practice, it seems likely that he had brought his mineral collection with him from Europe. If so, it would represent the first mineral collection to be imported to the American colonies. Unfortunately, nothing is known of its contents or its disposition, and there is no indication that Douglass pursued his collecting activities once having settled in America.

WILSON, W.E. (1994) The history of mineral collecting 1530-1799. Mineralogical Record, 25 (6), 241 pp.
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