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September 15, 2008

Victor H. Witten, MD: Creator of the National Library of Medicine “Audio History of Dermatology”

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Copyright 2008 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2008

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(9):1147. doi:10.1001/archderm.144.9.1147

Victor H. Witten, MD (Figure), died January 22, 2007, in Miami, Florida, at the age of 90 years. During his long professional career, he conceived and created a collection of audiotaped and videotaped interviews with more than 200 renowned dermatologists whose collective knowledge and recollections encompassed more than 130 years of European and American dermatology. Recognizing the uniqueness and value of the interviews, the US National Library of Medicine accepted the collection, which was to be kept and made available “in perpetuity.” Witten liked to refer to his creation as an “aural history,” enjoying the inability to separate oral and aural in the spoken word, while hopefully highlighting the importance of listening to history. He began his collection in the early 1960s, and the interviews continued into the 1990s. For maximum efficiency, Witten would travel with his equipment to national and international meetings, where he was able to interview a number of dermatologists who were also attending the meetings. Among the earliest interviewees were Dowling G. Barrow, Clark Finnerud, Carl Herzog, Max Jessner, and Udo Wile.

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