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Henry E. Sigerist

Correspondences with Welch, Cushing, Garrison, and Ackerknecht

Edited By Marcel H. Bickel

Henry E. Sigerist (1891-1957) is known as the most influential medical historian in the first half of the 20 th century. More than that he was a scholar of an unusually broad spectrum of activities. 50 years after his death he is still the subject of publications. During his active life in Zurich, Leipzig, Baltimore, and again in Switzerland he exchanged letters with some 300 correspondents of all walks of cultural life. The letters to Sigerist as well as the copies of his own letters are preserved in near completeness, a fact that allowed an unabridged and annotated edition. This volume contains Sigerist’s correspondences with the architect of American medicine, William H. Welch, the pioneer brain surgeon, Harvey Cushing, the medical bibliographer, Fielding H. Garrison, and the medical historian, Erwin H. Ackerknecht. The letters allow insight into the correspondents’ biographies and activities, their private lives, and relationships between persons, topics, and books. They also reflect the eventful time of the mid-20 th century. To each of the four correspondences is added an introduction and indices of literary works and of persons mentioned.


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3. Correspondence Henry E. Sigerist – Fielding H. Garrison 1923–1934


94 95 3.1. Introduction 3.1.1. Fielding H. Garrison (1870–1935) Fielding Hudson Garrison was born in Washington, DC, on 5 November 1870. In 1890 he obtained his B. A. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore when his teacher John Shaw Billings engaged him as assist- ant librarian of the Surgeon Gener- als’s Library (now National Library of Medicine) in Washington. This library was under the direction of Billings who taught Garrison the li- brarian skills. Garrison started work there while studying medicine at Georgetown University, obtaining his M. D. in 1893. The Library be- longing to the Army, Garrison was also obliged to start a military career. In 1909 he married Clara Brown, and in 1920/21 he served as a lieutenant colonel in Manila. Still as assistant librarian he retired at age 60 in 1930 to become director of the Johns Hopkins’ Welch Medical Library and at the same time Resident Lecturer in the history of medicine, first under William H. Welch and then under Henry E. Sigerist. He became president of the Johns Hopkins Medical History Club and assumed executive duties during Welch’s absence in Europe. He died on 18 April 1935 of an intestinal cancer. Garrison was an indefatigable worker. He continued Billings’ biblio- graphical Index Catalogue of the Surgeon General’s Library and, together with Robert H. Fletcher, founded Index Medicus in 1903. He started his Texts Illustrating the History of Medicine (Garrison 1912) which were con- tinued by Morton and others well into the 1990s in many...

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