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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 6, 2011


JAMA. 2011;306(1):104. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.906

A favorite statement of continental European writers is to the effect that the average English and American physician is often lacking in a proper interest in the history of his subject, the reason usually assigned being the intensely practical nature of the English-speaking practitioner, which allows him neither the time nor the inclination to approach his specialty from the historical side. While much of the best historical work in the past has undoubtedly been done by French and German scholars, like Littré and Daremberg, Choulant or Pagel; yet such exhaustive recent monographs as those of Adams, Greenhill, Payne, Norman Moore, D’Arcy Power, Osler, Sir Clifford Allbutt, Finlayson, Billings or Weir Mitchell have gone far to lift this imputation of late years. For the practitioner who writes, the advantage of a proper study of “origins” is, of course, self-evident. Much superfluous controversy, much waste of the writer's (and reader’s) time and of a journal's space, might be saved if physicians investigating a subject always knew exactly what others had done before them.