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June 24, 1961


JAMA. 1961;176(12):1033-1034. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040250059019

Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in 1809 in Cambridge, Mass., beyond famous Harvard Yard, the present site of the Littauer School of Public Administration. His father, a minister and a childless widower, was 46 and his mother 41 when the future physician was born.1 The volumes of good literature on the family shelves—Dryden, Pope, Goldsmith, Milton, and many others—exerted sound influences on young Holmes and probably attracted him to verse and poesy at an early age. Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, initial incumbent of the Professorship of the Theory and Practice of Physic at Harvard, and the introducer of smallpox vaccination in America, was a neighbor and a frequent visitor. He vaccinated the young man. In grammar school, Holmes was moderately studious and especially fond of reading. One year of schooling at Andover Academy was followed by Harvard College, which he entered at the age of 16. The daily routine at

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