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Sleepy Doctors


Assistant Surgeons stationed in various posts in the United States served as district agents for Billings, draining their territories of all available medical journals and books.




Photographic portrait, in black and white, of Charles Henry Alden, posed in three quarter view, from shoulders up, balding man with full dark beard in U.S. Army uniform.

Charles H. Alden (1836 - 1906). After several months of searching for and sending material to the Library, Alden received a box of books from Billings to be used in exchanges for further acquisitions. Alden dutifully replied that "I shall recommence my explorations shortly, I have a couple of promising rubbish heaps in view."




Title page, light yellow in color, with text in black, as follows: The Army Surgeon: an address to the graduates of the Medical Department of the University of Buffalo, February 24th, 1863. By Thomas F. Rochester, M.D. Professor of the Principles and Practice of Medicine. Buffalo. Joseph Warren and Co., printers, Courier office, 176 Washington St. 1863.

The Army Surgeon: An Address to the Graduates of the Medical Department of the University of Buffalo, by Thomas F. Rochester, 1863. This was one item Charles H. Alden sent to the Library. Alden found the vicinity around Buffalo, where he was stationed, a sparse hunting ground for journals. His results improved when he connected with Julius F. Miner, editor of the Buffalo Medical and Surgical Journal, and Professor J. P. White of the Medical Department of the University of Buffalo.




Title page with printed text in black, as follows: Anaesthetics, by Walter Coles, M.D., of Parkersburg. [Reprinted from the Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of West Virginia, June, 1871.] Wheeling: Frew, Hagans and Hall, steam job printers. 1871.

Anesthetics, by Walter Coles, 1871, located by George Taylor Beall in St. Louis. Director of the St. Louis medical purveyor depot, Beall delegated much of the responsibility to find local journals to civic-minded local physicians, notably William M. McPheeters. On one occasion, though, in September 1872, Dr. Beall visited a Dr. Martin and recounted his less-than-successful attempt to pry books loose from the doctor's library. Dr. Martin said "that he would look over his books and let me have some. I very politely informed that I had a great of spare time and if he would permit me I would select such journals etc, ... He replied that he had plenty of time ... I sent my messenger the next morning and he returned with two pamphlets which you will find the box marked."




Title page with printed text in black, as follows: The Louisville Journal of Medicine and Surgery. Edited by Lunsford P. Yandell, M.D., Professor of Chemistry in the Louisville Medical Institute; Henry Miller, M.D., Professor of Obstetrics in the same; and Theodore S. Bell, M.D. Vol. I. - No. 1. Louisville, Ky. Prentice and Weissinger. 1838.

The Louisville Journal of Medicine and Surgery, 1838. Surgeon William J. Sloan probably acquired this for the library through the assistance of assistant surgeon Thomas J. Griffiths. Sloan, stationed in Louisville, Kentucky, did his part to please Billings but was frustrated by the cooperation he received from local physicians. In March 1872 he defended his lack of results, saying, "I am at work, but progress is slow, like the people." Two months later his mood hadn't improved. "I have worked faithfully and unsuccessfully, among sleepy doctors, who made promises which they did not keep."




Title page with printed text in black, as follows: Illinois and Indiana Medical and Surgical Journal. Edited by James V. Z. Blaney, M.D., Daniel Brainerd, M.D., Wm. B. Herrick, M.D., and John Evans, M.D. Professors in Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois. Chicago, Ill.: Published by William Ellis. Indianapolis, Ind.: Published by John D. Defrees. 1848.

Illinois and Indiana Medical and Surgical Journal, 1846-1847. In Indianapolis, veteran military surgeon Luther Waterman learned Dr. Billings's limitations. From local physician Joseph Jones, Waterman bought three volumes of medical journals for $10. Billings felt obligated to honor Waterman's agreement and paid Jones, but scolded Waterman. An abashed Waterman wrote back that he would "send no more for money without writing beforehand," adding that if he had owned the books he "would have given them to the Library cheerfully."

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