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March 1993

William P. Letchworth: Philanthropist and Pioneer Epileptologist

Author Affiliations

From the Neurology Service (Dr Fine), Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center; the Neurology Service (Dr Fine) and the Health Sciences Library (Ms Sentz), University at Buffalo (Ms Fine), State University of New York; and the Department of Neurology (Dr Soria), School of Medicine, University of Louisville (Ky).

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(3):313-316. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540030077019

• Although neither a physician nor a scientist, William Pryor Letchworth significantly improved the care and treatment of epileptics at the beginning of this century. As commissioner of the New York State Board of Charities and later president, he established Craig Colony, America's first comprehensive epilepsy facility. In Care and Treatment of Epileptics, he summarized contemporary medical and social knowledge of epilepsy. As cofounder and president of the National Association for the Study of Epilepsy, he introduced from Europe his improvements of the colony plan of construction and financed Transactions, the society's scholarly journal. He combined a sensitivity to the needs of the unfortunate with the resolve of a successful businessman. Although William Pryor Letchworth is remembered for his philanthropy and the park in western New York that bears his name, his signal contributions to modern concepts of epilepsy are unknown to most physicians. This article will acquaint readers with the life and accomplishments of this philanthropist and pioneer epileptologist.