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Janitorial Duties


Billings economized in every way possible while obtaining old issues of medical journals. This proved a boon in Tennessee.

James F. Weeds, Army surgeon stationed in Nashville, had a fair amount of success obtaining locally produced medical journals for Billings through the assistance of Professor Paul F. Eve of the Nashville Medical College and a former editor of the Nashville Journal of Medicine and Surgery.

Another faculty member, Dr. George Blackie, had been an editor of this publication almost since his arrival in Nashville from his native Scotland in 1857.

Dr. Eve, unfortunately, had not kept a complete set of the journal. Dr. Blackie had, and in fact had paid to have his complete set bound for his personal library. He felt less charitable than Eve and told Weeds that he had paid $1.50 to bind each volume and wasn't about to give them away. Having said that, Blackie neglected to name a price and refused to entertain exchange offers.

In June Dr. Blackie left for an extended trip to Europe, still having set no price nor delegating anyone to sell the books in his absence. Weeds told Billings that he expected to have to pay at least $4 per volume to get them and asked: "Shall I give this price provided it cannot be bought for less[?]"

By the time Dr. Blackie had returned to Nashville in late September, Weeds was fairly certain that his was the only complete set of the journal. Billings sent an offer to Blackie who replied that $4 per volume was his minimum price.

A chance discovery almost saved Billings the money. In the medical college Weeds had found "in an out of the way closet" a cache of the much sought journals. Weeds "employed the janitor to examine the whole lot. He may find what you require." But it was a vain hope and they were forced to deal with Dr. Blackie.

Upon completing the transaction Dr. Weeds saved Billings some money by returning $4 and not purchasing one of Blackie's volumes, which duplicated issues already in the Library.



Page with handwriting in black ink, as follows: Contributions of Dr G. S. Blackie to Volume XVII. The Index - Page III. Reviews and notices: Mitchell's Essays - 34; Scottish Lunacy Report - 35; Lawrence Smith on Louisville Artesian Well - 38; Putnam's History of Middle Tennessee - 40; Proceedings of American Scientific Association - 41; Grant on Necrosis - 46; Contribution of Chicago Academy of Medicine - 47; Pennsylvania Idiot School Report - 151; Fownes' Elements of Chemistry - 156; Wynne on Legal Medicine - 158; Meigs, Woman and Her Diseases - 158; Jaeger on North American Insects - 159; Dickson's Elements of Medicine - 160; Transaction of New Jersey Medical Society - 180; Gray's Anatomy - 247; Bird's Urinary Deposits - 249; Coxe on Yellow Fever - 250; Smith's Address - 251; Meigs [ ] to Craniographers - 252; Bigelow's Science of Success - 252; Transactions of Medical Society of New York - 259; Bell's Medical Heroism - 258; Flint's Address - 264; Medical Communications of Mass. Med. Soc. - 349; Galt on Idiocy - 353.

Dr. Blackie was a contributing editor to the Nashville Journal of Medicine and Surgery. At the beginning of each of his personally bound volumes of the journal, he had handwritten an index to his own contributions.

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Photographic portrait, black and white, of James F. Weeds. Bust, three quarters view, of man with mustache in U.S. Army uniform with solemn expression.

James F. Weeds (1832-1875). Dr. Weeds faithfully worked to find all the issues of local journals lacking in the Library's holdings. However, he had his limitations. He wrote to Billings in August 1872 that he had temporarily suspended his activities, that "In consequence of my excessive corpulence and superabundance of fat, I suffer greatly in hot weather."

Title page of journal, with text, in black, as follows: Nashville Journal of Medicine and Surgery. Edited by W. K. Bowling, M.D., assisted by R. C. Foster, 4th, M.D., and George S. Blackie, M.D. Volume XVII. Nashville: John T. S. fall, book and job printer, corner of College and Union streets. 1859.

Title page of one of the volumes Billings bought from Dr. Blackie.