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July 5, 1976

Sources of Medical Information

Author Affiliations

From Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago.

JAMA. 1976;236(1):78-82. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270010066014

Colonial physicians acquired much of their medical information from sources other than journals and books (Fig 1). Letters, lecture notes, and other manuscript compilations, conversations with practitioners of medicine, and newspapers all provided information to the often-isolated physician. The problem of making medical information available was, in fact, such a common one that the Connecticut Medical Society at its second annual meeting (held in New Haven in October 1793—the year that Dr Glysson was admitted to the Society) set as one of its honorary prize questions, "What is the most eligible mode of increasing and propagating medical knowledge in the State of Connecticut?"

This was one of three questions proposed that year for discussion by physicians in Connecticut "or elsewhere." The other two questions were answered with ease, but information proved to be a problem for the Society for three years. At the 1794 meeting, the Society voted to hold