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Emile Holman Papers 1909-1976
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Biography

Biographical Note

Emile Frederic Holman (1890-1977) was born in Moberly, MO. His father was a Methodist minister, and the family moved several times during his early years as his father changed assigments, within Missouri, then to Illinois, and finally to Pasadena, California. Holman graduated from Stanford University in 1911. After working for the University President between 1911-1914, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and studied in Oxford. There he studied with Sir William Osler, who convinced Holman to enroll at Johns Hopkins to continue his surgical education. He received his medical degree in 1918. He continued his surgical training at Hopkins, working with William Halsted. After five years as chief resident at Hopkins, Holman left for a year's residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, to train with Harvey Cushing. He finally realized his goal of returning to California, moving to Stanford University Medical School in 1925. He became Head of the Department of Surgery in 1926, and remained at Stanford for the rest of his career, retiring in 1955.

Holman's professional career was marked by a balance between clinical work, experimental medicine, teaching, adminstration and writing. Although an excellent clinical surgeon, his main interest lay in elucidating basic pathophysiologic changes. He is best known for definitive studies on arteriovenous fistulae, but also published important studies on such various topics as skin grafting, lung abcesses, and biliary surgery. Holman authored over 200 articles during the course of his career. His approach to his work and career was greatly influenced by Osler, Halsted and Cushing. These medical giants instilled in Holman his great desire to teach and learn, which he passed to his medical students. Holman brought tremendous energy, wit, and wisdom to his classrooms, and was known as an inspiring and entertaining instructor by his legions of former students.

An ardent pacifist and anti-war spokesman, Holman challenged governments and leaders about social injustice, pollution, and foreign policy issues. Beginning with his Oxford years, his humanitarian activities started with serving on President Hoover's Committee for Relief in Belgium and with the American Field Ambulance in the French army. He volunteered for active duty in World War II at the age of 51, serving as a Navy surgeon in the South Pacific. His anti-war stance began with criticizing the American opposition to the League of Nations in 1919, and ended with letters to Presidents Johnson and Nixon over the tragedy of Vietnam.