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February 10, 1984

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine

Author Affiliations

Fallon Clinic Inc Worcester, Mass

JAMA. 1984;251(6):807. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340300091039

The first modern textbook of internal medicine was Osler's The Principles and Practice of Medicine, published in 1892. This was made possible by the development of bacteriology in the last third of the 19th century, and the consequent assignment of specific causes to the illnesses most patients were initially seen with in those days. For the first time it was practical to have a nosography based on etiology. Osler's breadth of knowledge, clinical orientation, and mastery of English prose made the book a tremendous success. New editions appeared every two or three years. In 1927, an entirely new textbook of medicine came out, edited by Dr Russell Cecil, but written by 130 contributors. It soon replaced Osler (by then edited by McCrae) as the standard American medical text. Cecil retained Osler's format, with discrete descriptions of "disease entities" grouped by etiology or by systems affected.

In 1950, another textbook was