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John Shaw Billings. Courtesy of the Clendening History of Medicine Library and Museum, University of Kansas Medical Center.

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Billings, John Shaw (12 April 1838–11 March 1913), army medical officer, library organizer, and public health activist, was born near Allensville, Indiana, the son of James Billings, a farmer and storekeeper, and Abby Shaw. Despite spotty secondary schooling, he ultimately went to Miami College (Ohio), where he earned his B.A. in 1857. He was awarded the M.D. by the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. Billings remained with the latter institution for a year as an anatomical demonstrator, but after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the U.S. Army as a contract surgeon. In 1862 he was commissioned first lieutenant and assistant surgeon and went on to make army service his career. Also in 1862 he married Katharine Mary Stevens; they had five children....

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Chadwick, James Read (02 November 1844–23 September 1905), gynecologist and medical librarian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Christopher Champlin Chadwick and Louisa Read, the daughter of a well-to-do Boston merchant. James was named after his grandfather, with whom in 1844 his father entered into partnership as domestic goods commission merchants, the firm of Read and Chadwick then commencing a period of great prosperity. James Read Chadwick was educated in the Boston schools and at Harvard College, graduating with an A.B. in 1865. After an extended trip abroad, he entered the Harvard Medical School in 1867 and received an M.D. in 1871, submitting a thesis on tracheotomy, as illustrated by cases in the records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. That same year he married Katherine M. Lyman, daughter of Dr. George H. Lyman, one of the pioneers in Boston in treating the diseases of women, a field in which Chadwick then began to train. The couple had four children....

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Cushing, Harvey Williams (08 April 1869–07 October 1939), neurosurgeon, medical historian, and bibliophile, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in the Western Reserve of Connecticut, the son of Henry Kirke Cushing, a physician, and Betsey Maria Williams. In addition to his father, Cushing’s paternal grandfather, great grandfather, and great-great grandfather were all physicians in general practice. Cushing’s childhood was a happy and full one with strong parental role models. He found opportunities at home to consort, through books, with the world of ideas, and to explore history. His early education was in the public schools of Cleveland and from his mother, who taught him French and introduced him to general literature and poetry. In 1887 Cushing entered Yale University, where he spent four happy years, achieving election to Scroll and Key (a matter of considerable importance to him) and securing the short-stop position on the Yale freshman baseball team and, later, membership on the varsity nine....

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Steiner, Lewis Henry (04 May 1827–18 February 1892), physician, state senator, and librarian, was born in Frederick, Maryland, the son of Christian Steiner, a merchant, and Rebecca Weltzheimer. Steiner studied at the Frederick Academy and in 1846 graduated from Marshall College in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where he was considered a particularly gifted student of chemistry. He went on to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received his M.D. in 1849. Returning home, he established a medical practice in Frederick. In 1852 he moved to Baltimore and thereafter devoted himself to teaching chemistry in relation to medicine....