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May 9, 1914

Holmes, Not Semmelweis

Author Affiliations

Slaterville, N. Y.

JAMA. 1914;LXII(19):1494. doi:10.1001/jama.1914.02560440050023

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To the Editor.  —Anent the interesting letter of Dr. Simon Baruch (The Journal, May 2, 1914, p. 1420), in your last issue concerning the priority of Holmes over Semmelweis "in the discovery" of the contagiousness of puerperal fever, Dr. Holmes himself states that his essay was read before the Boston Society for Medical Improvement, and at the request of the society printed in the New England Quarterly Journal of Medicine and Surgery for April, 1843. According to Hirst of Philadelphia the observations of Semmelweis were made in the Vienna Hospital in 1846-1848, while another paper which attracted wide attention was from the pen of Sir James Y. Simpson on "The Analogy between Puerperal and Surgical Fevers," published in 1850. That the facts will establish the priority of Holmes over Semmelweis would seem to be without question.It is contrary to facts, however, to consider Holmes as the discoverer, a claim

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