January 3, 1977

University College Hospital and Its Medical School: A History

Author Affiliations

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Springfield, Ill


by W. R. Merrington, 301 pp, 29 illus, £7.50, London, William Heinemann, 1976.

JAMA. 1977;237(1):68. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270280070030

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Histories of hospitals fall broadly into two categories. The majority, by concentrating on personalities (often exclusively on physicians, surgeons, and benefactors), interest principally the dedicated historian or those who have associations with the institution. They contribute to an esprit de corps, but some of them, because of their chauvinism, often irritate general historians and lower the academic standing of medical history. In contrast, the second category is of more general interest because the authors explore the changing, complex interrelationships found in institutions and, at the same time, do not forget patients.

Merrington's book (which also covers a medical school) falls mostly, but not entirely, into the first group. Furthermore, because the hospital and medical school involved so many renowned names, there is much of interest for the general reader. The school opened in 1828 as part of "the Godless Institution in Gower Street" (there were no religious barriers for admission),