John Shaw Billings
U.S. Army; University of Pennsylvania; New York Public Library
Billings worked at: Anatomy Faculty, Medical College of Ohio 1860-1861; U.S. Army: In-hospital service as surgeon and medical statistician 1862-64; In charge of library of the surgeon-general's office 1865-1883; Curator of Medical Museum and Library 1884-1895; University of Pennsylvania: Hygiene Faculty 1891; Director, University Hospital 1893-1896; Director, New York Public Library 1896-1913; Chairman, Board of Directors, Carnegie Institution 1905-1913.
While he was in medical school and working on his thesis, Billings realized the need for a great medical library and the need for a comprehensive catalog and index of books, periodicals, journals, etc. He increased the size of the surgeon-general's library from 600 volumes in 1865 to 50,000 in 1873. He began Index Medicus, a monthly guide to current medical literature, with Robert Fletcher in 1880 which ran 16 volumes by the time Billings retired from the library in 1895.
In 1873, he drafted plans for organization and construction of Johns Hopkins University Hospital and recommended the pavilion plan for the construction of the hospital. This type of plan was soon used across the country. Billings wrote many reports dealing with hospital administration and the training of hospital personnel. He served as medical adviser to the Hopkins estate trustees in which he played an important role in determining the organization, philosophy, and faculty of the Johns Hopkins Medical School.
He supervised the compilation of statistics for the U.S. Censuses of 1880 and 1890. He influenced Hollerith in the development of punched card system using mechanical methods of calculation of vital statistics which were successfully used in the Census of 1890. Billing's plan was used when constructing the New York Public Library. While the library was being built, Billings headed the reclassification and recataloging of the books from the Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations which were consolidated in 1895 to form the New York Public Library. He persuaded Carnegie to give $5 million to help fund the establishment of this library and its branches. For additional biographical information on Shaw see: http://www.medlib.iupui.edu/hom/billings.html
National Board of Health, Vice-chairman 1878; American Public Health Association, Pres. 1879.
National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Division, Bethesda, MD.
28 mss. boxes
Includes letters to Billings and copies of letters sent by Billings, professional as well as personal correspondence.
Miles, Wyndham D. A History of the National Library of Medicine. NLM: Bethesda, MD, 1982.
University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library, Columbia, SC 29208.
In Hammond-Bryan-Cumming family papers; Includes narrative compilation of documents by John Shaw Billings, including genealogical matter on the Clay, Cumming, Fox, Hammond, Spann, and Woolsey families, family letters and reminiscences, and material relating to Cowden, Redcliffe (Beech Island, SC), and Silver Bluff plantations.
Unpublished finding aid in the repository
NUCMC, MS78-555, p. 62.
New York Public Library
John Shaw Billings, papers, 1861-1918; Librarian and surgeon; Correspondence and papers relating to Billings' work with the US Army Medical Department (1861-95), Johns Hopkins Hospital (1873-90), National board of Health (1879-81), the 10th and 11th Census, University of Pennsylvania Hospital and Laboratory of Hygiene (1890-95), New York Public Library (1895-1913), Committee of 50 on the liquor problem (1893-1904), Carnegie Institution (1902-13), etc., family correspondence, including letter from Billings to his wife regarding his Civil War experiences; Lectures, addresses, notes, and miscellaneous papers; Correspondents include Alexander Agassiz, Alexander G. Bell, John Bigelow, Henry P. Bowditch, Henry C. Burdett, John L. Cadwalader, Andrew Carnegie, Melvil Dewey, Robert Fletcher, Francis Galton, Daniel Stephen Smith, and George Sternberg. (For additional information see the minutes of the library board and its committees.)
Inventory found in the library
NUCMC, MS74-525, p. 194.
Additional papers can be found at the Library of Congress, the University of Pennsylvania Library, Johns Hopkins University Library, and the University of Rochester Library; Billings is listed as a correspondent in the following entries in NUCMC: MS60-2743, MS61-2320, MS66-1482, MS68-1698, MS69-1373, MS72-1037, MS73-41, and MS82-1331.
Dain, Phyllis. John Shaw Billings. In Dictionary of American Library Biography. Libraries Unlimited, Inc. Littleton, CO, 1978. and NUCMC.