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John Shaw Billings

John Shaw Billings


Billings, an army surgeon who organized field hospitals during the Civil War, played a major role in the development of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was born in Allensville, Indiana, and received his A.B. in 1857 from Miami University of Ohio, and his M.D. in 1860 from the Medical College of Ohio.

After the Civil War, Billings was  assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General, where he began to develop the library which ultimately became the National Library of Medicine. In 1876, trustees of The Johns Hopkins Hospital invited Billings to submit plans for the design of the hospital. He also advised on academic planning for the medical school and conducted a national and international search for its first faculty.

Billings served as a lecturer in the history of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University and as a faculty member in hygiene. After leaving Johns Hopkins, he was appointed a professor of hygiene at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1896, he became founding director of the New York Public Library, where he served until his death.

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