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May 16, 1936


JAMA. 1936;106(20):1736. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770200042017

William H. Welch once asserted that the Army Medical Library and its Index Catalogue are America's greatest gift to medicine. Sir William Osler was so grateful for its services that he gave to the library the manuscript of his farewell address delivered at Johns Hopkins University. From a small collection of books placed in the office of Surgeon General Lovell a hundred years ago the Army Medical Library has grown to be today the largest medical library in the world.1

The century of growth cannot be reviewed without reference to an incident in the life of John Shaw Billings, an army surgeon. When writing his graduating thesis at Miami Medical College, Billings had difficulty in finding statistics on the results of certain surgical operations. For six months he ransacked the libraries in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere. He became convinced that there was not a medical library in

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