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August 18, 1906


JAMA. 1906;XLVII(7):510-511. doi:10.1001/jama.1906.02520070044005

As commonly understood, the special function of the medical historian is to trace the growth of medical knowledge in general. Frequently the historian concerns himself more or less exclusively with the great and epochal achievements in medicine, achievements that often mark the crest of a large wave of progress, and he usually dwells with special fondness on the work and the life of the great masters. Now it is generally believed that biography must ever be one of the main sources for historical material. Events group themselves easily about the chief actors at any stage of progress. And certainly biography is a most interesting and inspiring form of reading; our medical historical literature, with its schedule of facts, dates and names, we fear would seem rather dry and of limited interest were it not that so much of it is biographical.

There seems to be a growing conviction, however, that

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