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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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Farrand, Livingston (14 June 1867–08 November 1939), university president and public health advocate, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Samuel Ashbel Farrand, an educator, and Louise Wilson. His father was headmaster of Newark Academy, and Livingston’s older brother succeeded his father when he retired. Farrand attended Newark Academy and then matriculated at nearby Princeton. After graduating in 1888, he entered Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which he earned his M.D. in 1891. Farrand was not drawn to medicine, however, so he decided to take a few years of additional study abroad to find his métier. A year in Cambridge and then a year in Berlin convinced him that his true calling lay in the nascent field of psychology. By studying the physiological aspects of psychology—at the time his particular interest—he could make use of his medical education....

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Flick, Lawrence Francis (10 August 1856–07 July 1938), physician, historian, and early leader in the campaign against tuberculosis, was born in Carroll Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Flick, a mill owner and farmer, and Elizabeth Schabacher (changed to Sharbaugh). Flick grew up on the family farm, but poor health excused him from the usual chores. A bookish boy and a devout Roman Catholic, he first attended local schools. For most of his teenage years, he studied at St. Vincent’s, a Benedictine college in Beatty (now Latrobe), Pennsylvania, but symptoms suggesting tuberculosis cut short his classwork, and he returned home. After a period of indecision and various jobs, he entered Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1879. He then completed an internship at Philadelphia Hospital and opened an office for the practice of medicine. His persisting illness, however, was finally diagnosed as tuberculosis and, following his physicians’ advice, he traveled to the West for his health. By 1883, improvement allowed him to resume his practice, which soon included increasing numbers of patients with tuberculosis. “When I recovered from tuberculosis as a young man,” he wrote, “I consecrated my life to the welfare of those afflicted with the disease and to the protection of those who had not yet contracted it” ( ...

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Rosen, George (23 June 1910–27 July 1977), medical historian and public health educator, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Morris Rosen, a garment worker, and Rose Handleman. Rosen’s parents were immigrant Jews who spoke Yiddish at home, and it was not until he entered the New York City public schools that Rosen learned English. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1926, and the College of the City of New York in 1930. A victim of the policy that restricted enrollment of Jewish students at American medical schools, Rosen then undertook medical studies at the University of Berlin where he joined several dozen young Americans (all Jews except one African American) who had been denied a high quality medical education at home. Rosen witnessed the Nazi seizure of power and lived in Nazi Germany while completing his medical education. In Berlin, Rosen met Beate Caspari, a German-Jewish medical student, whom he married in 1933; they had two children....