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Article
August 2, 1958

On the Utility of Medical History

JAMA. 1958;167(14):1801. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990310107020

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Abstract

This volume is the first of a new series of monographs published by the Institute on Social and Historical Medicine. The purpose of this organization is "to inquire whether medical history can in effect serve to illuminate current problems and issues in medicine. Can they, when seen in the perspective of historical data and historical derivations, be better understood? Can the knowledge of past experiences, historically comprehended, sharpen judgment as to the values and the probable effectiveness of proposed actions?" The book could well have been subtitled, Apologia pro historia medicinae. Many pages are devoted to justify the serious study of medical history in the face of a widespread apathy on the part of the medical profession. Thus, for example, Ackerknecht describes the state of medical history courses in medical schools while Schrecker defends the position that we can learn something from history by showing the mutually beneficial relationship existing

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