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Fielding Hudson Garrison Papers 1910-1957
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

While a prolific historian and outstanding biographer in his own right, Garrison apparently had little sense of the potential historical interest in his own correspondence and papers. In response to a request from Mrs. Leroy Crummer in 1934 for copies of her husband's correspondence with Garrison, he replied that, when "faced with the dire necessity of moving tons of unbound paper to Baltimore when I came over here, I made short work of it." He had offprints of his publications bound, but as for his personal correspondence, only a few volumes of letters were similarly preserved. He described these as "mainly autograph items," mostly from European celebrities. A list of the volumes which Garrison had bound is attached to a letter from J.H. Bryson. The first nine volumes in the list were letters; the remainder are publications.

The National Library of Medicine has received three of the volumes of letters from Garrison's daughters (see below). At least two other volumes were loaned by one of the daughters to a scholar who lost them during a move. A sixth volume, described as "Mencken Letters," is believed to be in the possession of one of Garrison's grandchildren. The location of the other three volumes of letters is unknown.

Franz L. Tietsch, a witness to Garrison's will, noted in a 1941 letter to Dr. Judson B. Gilbert that Garrison "declined to make provisions for the disposal of his books, papers and sundry writings," and that Mrs. Garrison then disposed of much of it after his death. The materials in the Fielding H. Garrison collection in the National Library of Medicine therefore have been assembled from a variety of different sources. The original provenance and order of the material, however, has been retained whenever possible within the collection. An index at the end of the finding guide makes it possible to identify material from an individual correspondent in any of the four series which make up the collection.


The first series consists of correspondence from the Army Medical Library's correspondence file. The bulk of the material relates to library and army business, reference inquiries, bibliographical questions, and the Index Medicus. Some material relating to Garrison's publications is also included. Incoming correspondence in some, but not all, cases is included with the carbon copy of Garrison's reply found here. Material is arranged chronologically, but an index to correspondents is found at the end of this finding guide.


This series consists of eighteen small memoranda books filled with Garrison's personal and hasty jottings from day to day on a wide variety of subjects. Most entries are written in pencil. Some of the material is on medical history. Much of it is quotations, in several languages, from books and articles which he read. There is no order of any kind. While the covers of the books date from 1899 to 1917, it is impossible on first reading to tell when Garrison entered the notes. One volume appears to be from the Manila period, and the others may date from his time in Baltimore. The material was purchased in 1953 from a New York bookstore. A letter from Jefferson R. Kean found in one of the volumes is included with the correspondence in the next series.


In the wake of Fielding Garrison's death on 18 April 1935, his close friend, Henry E. Sigerist of the Johns Hopkins University's Institute of the History of Medicine, devoted an entire issue of his Bulletin of the History of Medicine to Garrison's memory. In 1937 Sigerist also began to aid Baltimore businessman Franz Ludwig Tietsch in his plans to edit and publish an "autobiography" of Garrison as he depicted himself in letters to his friends. Sigerist published an appeal in the Bulletin to Garrison's friends to send their correspondence from Garrison to the Institute, where it would be copied and returned "without delay." A similar letter was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association 109:22 (Nov. 27, 1937): 1834. The response was great. The Institute received "about 5000 letters of Fielding H. Garrison" including more than four hundred of the letters were sent in by Garrison's close friend H.L. Mencken.

From the thousands of letters received by the Institute, Tietsch selected those letters which were particularly reflective of Garrison's personality. He then had extracts from those letters typed. Tietsch assigned a number to each page of the typed extracts, and the same numbers to the corresponding letter from which the extracts were made. [These numbers are noted in brackets on the folders in the collections.] Photostatic copies of the selected correspondence were made for the Institute's collections before the originals were returned to their owners.

In some cases, Tietsch decided that none of the Garrison correspondence sent in by a given person was of interest to his project, and excerpted nothing from it. Sigerist's office then sent such letters back to their owners without making copies of them for the Institute's collections. Files belonging to such people, containing only their correspondence with the Institute, have been separated from the rest of the collection, arranged alphabetically, and are located at the end of the series.

Often Tietsch decided that only a portion of the correspondence loaned to the Institute by a correspondent was valuable to his project. In these instances, only the relevant portion of the correspondence was copied for the Institute's files before all the correspondence was returned to its owner. Sigerist's office identified correspondence omitted from the project with a pink slip marked "OUT," often giving the letter's date, addressee and location. These slips are located in the same folders as the rest of the correspondence. In this finding guide, such files have been designated "incomplete." In these instances researchers may wish to check the repositories currently holding the complete correspondence to see if material of interest may be found there.

In yet other instances the owner of the correspondence donated the originals to the Institute or to Tietsch. In this finding guide, such files have been marked "ALS" [autographed letter, signed] or "TLS" [typewritten letter, signed]. A few correspondents made typed copies of the correspondence, donating those to the Institute; these are also marked.

Unfortunately, Tietsch never completed his project, though a preliminary sketch "giving the idea of the kind of book that Mr. Tietsch is preparing" was published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine 7:4 (April, 1939). The raw material collected by Sigerist and copied by the Institute remained in the Institute's files. In 1967 Mrs. Janet Teach, widow of F. L. Tietsch, donated to NLM the collection of extracts prepared by her husband as well as the original letters left in his possession. In 1991 NLM, with the Institute's permission, made copies of the photostats and original letters found in the files of the Institute of the History of Medicine. The copies, typed extracts, and original letters still in Tietsch's possession at the time of his death and donated to the library in 1967 were then combined with these copies into one continuous alphabetical series. The original letters and copies are found first, followed by the typed extracts and, when present, any correspondence relating to the acquisition of the letters (identified here as "project correspondence"). The bulk of the project correspondence is either with Henry Sigerist or his secretary.

Interfiled into this series as well are copies of Garrison's correspondence with Otto Juettner at the University of Cincinnati (acquired in 1970) and with William Halsted (from the Halsted papers at the Johns Hopkins University). Also interfiled into the series are three letters to Clara Garrison, the gift of Dr. Solomon Kagan to the library in 1941. Also included in this series is Garrison's correspondence with George Simmons, Morris Fishbein, and Margery Hutchins of the American Medical Association. In 1956 Fishbein loaned the Simmons and Hutchins correspondence to Dorothy Schullian of the History of Medicine Division in order that a microfilm copy of it could be made for the library. At a later date Fishbein gave to the library this correspondence and his own. The microfilm is separately cataloged as MS Film 29. Similarly interfiled is copies of Garrison's correspondence with Herman T. Radin and Burton Chance. The material was loaned to the library by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1959, microfilmed, and the originals returned to the College. The microfilm is separately cataloged as MS Film 31.

The series ends with Tietsch's own correspondence relating to the project, and includes galley proofs and offprints of his publications about Garrison.


(Robert, Alfred L. and Schramm, Elizabeth E.)


(photostatic copies from the N.Y. Academy of Medicine)


(see Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons Medical Library)


(see Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons Medical Library)


Garrison correspondents whose correspondence Tietsch and the Institute returned without copying or preparing typed abstracts. Most of the correspondence in these folders is with Sigerist. All are photocopies of originals in the Institute of the History of Medicine.


Tietsch's correspondence with individuals about the proposed Garrison biography.


In 1986 Mrs. Margaret Estey, daughter of Dr. Fielding Garrison, gave to the library her father's material still in her possession. The donation consisted of two volumes of letters to Garrison, one volume of personnel records, and several folders of correspondence from his tenure at Johns Hopkins. The material has been kept as received, and is indexed in the index at the end of this finding guide.


In 1989 Mrs. Patricia Boorman, daughter of Dr. Fielding Garrison, gave to the library her collection of her father's material. This material consists of one volume of letters to Garrison, a volume of collected reprints, and some correspondence from his tenure at the Welch Library. Mrs. Boorman also loaned to the library a family record book first begun by Garrison's father, a copy of which was made with her permission and has been added to the collection. The volume of correspondence was disbound to better protect it but left in the order it was received, and is indexed at the end of this finding guide. Publications were added to the Garrison reprint collection in the library's printed collections. The remaining material (menus, typescript manuscripts, and reviews by and of Garrison) were added to the manuscript collection.