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July 8, 1961


JAMA. 1961;177(1):61-62. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040270063012

There must be some peculiar ingredient in the environment of the state of Indiana that spawns litterateurs and lexicographers. Lew Wallace, George Ade, Booth Tarkington, James W. Riley, and the adopted son, Kin Hubbard, attest to the brilliant reputation of the writers of the Hoosier state. John Shaw Billings, military surgeon and planner of hospitals, also a native of Indiana, established the world's greatest medical library and was Superintendent-in-Chief of the New York Public Library as his last great accomplishment in the world of books.

Billings was born in 1838 in Cotton Township, Switzerland County, Indiana. The family moved first to Rhode Island but returned to the Midwest and settled in the village of Allensville on the road from Rising Sun to Vevay. His father served as postmaster, shoemaker, and keeper of the crossroads country store. Billings was avid for knowledge and, with the help of a dictionary, studied Latin

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