The first Boston Medical Library (BML) was founded by Doctors John C. Warren and James Jackson in 1805. The Boston Medical Library was formally organized in 1875 by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes who served as its President. In 1960, the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical School Library entered into an agreement to combine their collections and administration in a new building known as The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.     

About Yousuf Karsh


Excerpted from the Boston Globe, Tuesday, October 28, 1975

"In 1929, a young Armenian refugee, Yousuf Karsh, was apprenticed to Boston's John H. Garo, a prominent photographer of the time. Garo encouraged his protege's cultural interests. My university, Karsh says, was the Public Library and Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Karsh had wanted to become a doctor but financial circumstances forced him to pursue a career in photography. Now world-famous for his portraits of great men, Karsh of Ottawa returned to Boston to repay a debt of gratitude.0

Karsh has assembled a portfolio of 12 of his portraits entitled "Healers of Our Age," which has been published in cooperation with the Boston Medical Library and the Polaroid Corporation. This is a special limited edition portfolio of 590. Not all the healers honored in the portfolio are physicians. Karsh has included Helen Keller and Albert Einstein as well as heart specialist Paul Dudley White, gynecologist Thomas Stephen Cullen, pathologist William Boyd, and seven other eminent doctors. The portfolio contains a brief biography of each subject, and an essay by Karsh on the photographic encounter which produced the portrait.

Fascinated by various kinds of greatness, Karsh has always felt that the medical profession provided a special opportunity for benevolence and humanity. He finds these expressed in the personal philosophies of the healers.

Carl Jung told his students to learn their theories well, but to put them aside when they "touch the miracle of a living soul." Paul Dudley White said simply: "The patient must lead the way." ......

Karsh finds that great physicians are likely to be vain, but never arrogant. "Arrogance is self-involvement. It is intolerable. But vanity is self-enoblement. It makes a person want to do things his way, but correctly. A little vanity is necessary."

Two "healers" were exceptions to the rule about vanity. Sir Alfred Fleming, the disoverer of penicillin, wrote: "It (penicillin) arrived nameless and numberless - all I did was notice it." Fleming refused to take any financial benefit from the discovery.

Alfred Blalock, who perfected the surgical treatment for "blue babies, rushed from the end of his thousandth operation to call the child's mother from a wall telephone outside the operating room.

Karsh, commissioned by Blalock's students to commemorate the historic operation, had teased the surgeon about medical vanity the evening before. Deeply impressed by the telephone call, Karsh apologized. "Dr. Blalock, I take back everyting I said last night about the vanity of doctors. If you have such a thing, which I doubt, you are more than entitled to it."

During his apprentice years, Karsh never entered a medical library. His choice of Countway for his repayment to the city of Boston reflects his view of reciprocity. "It is rarely possible to pay back a debt in kind. Perhaps the best thanks is to aid a person who owes us nothing - at some other place - at some other time."




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