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Author: Cummings, Martin Marc, 1920-2011
Title: Dr. John Shaw Billings - Versatile Savant of American Medicine, 1974
Occasion: Presented at the Johns Hopkins Medical History Club, Baltimore, Md.
MMC Commentary: I remember with real pleasure having the opportunity to present a paper in which I described the close personal and working relationships between two giants of the 19th century, Dr. John Shaw Billings, the first Director of the National Library of Medicine, and Dr. William Osler, the first Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. It was Dr. Billings who engaged Dr. Osler when he served as a consultant to the newly created Johns Hopkins Medical School. Thereafter they maintained a close communication. Dr. Osler often came to Washington to borrow books for his own study and Billings often sought clinical advice from Osler. This paper was based largely on an analysis of the correspondence between Billings and Osler. It was largely concerned with library matters, including a discussion of an offer made by Oxford University to make Dr. Billings their librarian. I was pleased to point out that he readily rejected their offer. It was somewhat inspiring for me to give a talk in a building that Dr. Billings had designed and where Osler practiced medicine. I came away inspired by the experience.
Subject terms:
History of Medicine
National Library of Medicine (U.S.)
Billings, John S. (John Shaw), 1838-1913
Johns Hopkins Medical History Club
Bibliographical Society of Great Britain
Index Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon General's Office
Index Medicus
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894

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