American Medical Biographies/Preface
Some fifteen years ago while engaged in writing the biography of Walter Reed, of yellow fever fame, I became conscious of the great need of an authoritative American medical biographic work, for ready reference, on the table of every doctor in the United States and in Canada. The older works of large scope were long out of date and were burdened with the incubus of a lot of living men, besides having hundreds of omissions, especially among our pioneers. Sidney Lee has truly said in his "Principles of Biography": "Death is a part of life and no man is fit subject for biography till he is dead. Living men have been made themes of biography. But the choice defies the cardinal condition of completeness." I therefore set to work to fill in the gaps and to bring the biographies of the dead down through the year 1910, in a two-volume work, with introductory chapters on the histories of several of the specialties, and including a number of portraits. This book, containing 1184 biographies, was published in 1912 under the title "Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography." It is my fond hope that that work, in spite of its obvious defects, always will retain a certain value on account of the outline histories of the specialties, as well as its original biographies contributed by many collaborators throughout the country.
Dr. Walter L. Burrage and I have worked for several years to produce the present volume, deleting from the former book 51 biographies not coming up to our standard, replacing with new biographies 62 others, revising and correcting from original sources nearly all, and adding 815 new ones, besides those that have replaced the old ones. Thus our book contains 1948 biographies and is carried through the year 1918. In addition there are about 80 references to individuals mentioned biographically in the main biographies. We offer, therefore, a new work which we venture to hope will become a worthy companion to Fielding H. Garrison's splendid "History of Medicine," furnishing succinct memoranda of every medical worthy of our own country and Canada over a period of more than three hundred years—a vade mecum for every physician who feels an interest in the past history of his profession. A cyclopedia of this sort becomes a North American "Who's Who" of our medical predecessors, and serves at once to identify, and to give at least the outline facts in the life of, any eminent departed worthy. Even a cursory glance at this long list of the illustrious dead ought to inspire us who are left to pass along the torch, to greater zeal in our daily tasks.
We have labored these several years, in almost daily communication. Our principle of selection has been to include every man who has in any way contributed to the advancement of medicine in the United States or in Canada, or who, being a physician, has become illustrious in some other field of general science or in literature. Ministering to suffering humanity through an extensive practice has seemed to us not to distinguish a physician from his fellows sufficiently for inclusion. In estimating worthiness among the pioneers we have been somewhat more liberal, and we have deemed worthiness to include eminence in writing and teaching, as well as in inventing, investigating, founding institutions, promoting social welfare, fostering state health interests, or holding important political offices. We have included eminent homeopathic as well as eclectic physicians who have done original work, and our eminent medical women are well represented.
My own special interest has been in collecting facts about those who cultivated the natural sciences—botany, chemistry, zoology or geology.
In our list of over nineteen hundred names are stars of the first, second and third magnitude. About the first and second there has been no doubt, but about the third the question often arose: "Is he worthy, or is he not?" We did our best with the data available, and cultivated a catholicity of judgment that broadened as the work progressed.
Our chief sources of information have been the older works on biography which we have had at our elbows day in and day out; assistance has come from an army of correspondents in many parts of the country, some furnishing complete biographies, others needed data. Of the biographical works that preceded my cyclopedia, James Thacher's "American Medical Biography" (1828) was invaluable, rescuing from oblivion, as it did, many worthies, and stimulating research for more adequate facts about those who were mentioned. Stephen W. Williams's "American Medical Biography," appearing in 1845, supplemented Thacher's book. Both were often inaccurate and handicapped by the custom of the time that required platitudinous remarks about the excellencies of the subjects. S. D. Gross's "Lives of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons" (1861) and S. W. Francis's two books, "Biographical Sketches of distinguished Living New York Surgeons" (1866), and "Distinguished Living New York Physicians" (1867), gave a limited number of excellent biographies written from close range. My old Philadelphia friend, William B. Atkinson, published his "Physicians and Surgeons of the United States" in 1878, which has been a continual source of surprise. Marred only by the inclusion of the living, it contained among its eighteen hundred biographies a large proportion of the men who had been eminent up to that time. When hunting for data concerning some forgotten worthy the search would often end successfully in Atkinson's pages. Many of his biographies were later taken over bodily by such works as "Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1887) and R. French Stone's "Biography of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons" (1894), which were also sources of our work. Atkinson was the first to try to cover the whole ground of American medical biography; Stone carried the undertaking further, after sixteen years, and produced a book that was a credit to its compiler, but here again the living and their portraits intruded. Two years later Irving A. Watson brought out his "Physicians and Surgeons of America," a volume containing a majority of unimportant men, many of them still alive, with their counterfeit presentments, and a minority of biographies not to be found elsewhere. Such standard works as the "Medical Men of the Revolution" by J. M. Toner (1876); "A Narrative of Medicine in America," J. G. Mumford (1903); the "History of Medicine in Massachusetts," S. A. Green (1881), and E. F. Cordell's "Medical Annals of Maryland" (1903) have been laid under contribution. We got much help with the Canadian worthies from William Canniff's "Medical Profession in Upper Canada, 1783– 1850" (1894). The Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General's Office at Washington was gone through in all its volumes to trace forgotten notables who might have written something worth while; such works as the "New American Encyclopaedia" of D. Appleton & Company (1866), the "New International Year Book" of Dodd, Mead & Company (1913–18) and the "National Cyclopedia of American Biography" (1898) were studied for the same purpose. The medical periodical literature of the United States and Canada has been drawn on freely and exhaustively, and in like measure the medical histories of states, regions and communities, the medical directories, the non-medical histories, the historical catalogues of the various medical schools and the proceedings and transactions of the many medical societies and associations.
The reader will find on pages xi–xix a list of the works chiefly consulted, some two hundred titles, which it is hoped, will prove of value to those who wish to pursue this fascinating study further and who may care to compare the printed data with the references. The attempt has been made to give the references to the sources of information at the end of each biography (even though this has proved not to be feasible in some cases) so that the reader may, if he chooses, verify or disprove our statements at the source. In this way errors that may have crept in can be eliminated by future investigators.
Authors' names have been appended to the biographies where possible. A local list has been provided to aid in finding physicians from the various states and the divisions of Canada. The general index is for speedier reference as well as to furnish a guide to names mentioned but not subjects of separate biographies, either because of secondary importance or because the obtainable facts regarding them were insufficient. These are printed in italic type.
It is our pleasant task to thank our assistants who have had the same personal interest in the work that we have felt ourselves, namely, Miss Harriet Blogg and Miss Bertha F. Rowe; their constant sympathy and effective aid and often keen scent for valuable material have made our undertaking possible. We owe a debt of gratitude to many friends scattered over the country which we cannot repay with thanks: Dr. James A. Spalding has been an ever ready and inspiring helper and has written and rewritten many of the biographies; Dr. Thomas Hall Shastid has co-operated constantly from the first; Dr. Henry M. Hurd has given unsparing valuable aid in everything connected with the alienists; Dr. Fielding H. Garrison has repeatedly put at our service his incomparable judgment; Dr. Walter R. Steiner has been a mine of information in relation to the eminent physicians of Connecticut. It would have seemed impossible to handle New York State without the constant, and may I say affectionate, help of my dear friend Dr. Frederic S. Dennis. Dr. Ewing Jordan has stood by us throughout and has saved us from many a pitfall with model memoranda scarcely equalled in this generation. We are under obligations for assistance from Dr. A. G. Drury, Dr. D. Bryson Delavan, Dr. Francis R. Packard, Dr. G. W. H. Kemper, Dr. George H. Weaver, Dr. Robert Wilson, Jr., Dr. William Snow Miller, Dr. John Hendley Barnhart and Dr. H. D. House.
Help has been given unstintingly by the following librarians: Mr. John Parker, Peabody Institute, Baltimore; Dr. B. C. Steiner, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore; Mr. John Robinson, Peabody Museum, Salem, Mass.; Mr. Robert F. Hayes, Jr., Maryland Historical Society; Mr. Julius H. Tuttle, Massachusetts Historical Society; Mr. William G. Stannard, Virginia Historical Society; Dr. John W. Far-low, Boston Medical Library; Mr. F. H. Chase, Reference Librarian, Boston Public Library; Mr. W. C. Lane, Harvard College Library; Mr. Herbert Putnam, Library of Congress; Mr. C. K. Bolton, Boston Athenaeum; Dr. Albert Allemann, Library of the Surgeon-General; Miss Minnie Wright Blogg, Johns Hopkins Hospital Library; Mrs. Laura E. Smith, New York Academy of Medicine; Mr. Harry M. Lydenberg, Reference Librarian, New York Public Library; Miss Marguerite E. Campbell, Custodian of Holmes Hall, Boston Medical Library; Miss Marcia C. Noyes, Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland; Mr. H. R. McIlvaine, Virginia State Library; Mrs. Ruth Lee Briscoe, University of Maryland; Miss J. L. Farnam, Secretary, and Mr. Frederick W. Ashley, Superintendent of Reading Room, Library of Congress; Miss Mary A. Day, Grey Herbarium, Harvard University; Mrs. R. M. Thompson, Boston Medical Library; Mr. Glover M. Allen, Boston Society of Natural History; Mrs. Austin Holden, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Mr. Charles Perry Fisher, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and Miss Jane Grey Rogers, Tulane University School of Medicine.
Now that our self-imposed task is over we trust we shall not be compelled to take comfort in Leslie Stephen's dictum "That great as is the difference between a good and a bad work of the kind, even a very defective performance is superior to none at all."
April 1, 1920. Howard A. Kelly.