John Shaw Billings papers

Collection Data

Description
John Shaw Billings (1838-1913) was an American surgeon, hospital planner and librarian. He served as a U.S. Army surgeon and was responsible for creating the nation's foremost medical library, now the National Library of Medicine. He served as special advisor to the trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital in planning and organizing that institution. After retiring from the Army in 1895, Billings was named the first Director of the New York Public Library. He helped create the NYPL by combining the Astor and Lenox Libraries into a public research library and building a branch library system for three of the boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx). He also planned and oversaw the construction of the Central Library building which was opened to the public in 1911. Collection consists of correspondence and papers relating to Billings' work with the United States Army Medical Department, 1861-1895; Johns Hopkins Hospital (especially building plans), 1873-1890; National Board of Health, 1879-1881; the 10th and 11th censuses, University of Pennsylvania Hospital and Laboratory of Hygiene, 1890-1895; The New York Public Library, 1895-1913; Committee of Fifty on the Liquor Problem, 1893-1904; Carnegie Institute, 1902-1913; National Academy of Science, 1875-1911; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Other papers are family correspondence, including letters from Billings to his wife regarding his Civil War experiences; texts of lectures and addresses; notes; and miscellaneous papers. Also, scrapbooks about the Civil War, National Board of Health and health issues, 1861-1903; diaries; photographs and travel notebooks; and material about infectious diseases and epidemics. 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 C. Gilman, Silas W. Mitchell, William Pepper, Stephen Smith, and George Sternberg.
Names
Billings, John S. (John Shaw), 1838-1913 (Creator)
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910 (Correspondent)
Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922 (Correspondent)
Bigelow, John, 1817-1911 (Correspondent)
Bowditch, H. P. (Henry Pickering), 1840-1911 (Correspondent)
Burdett, Henry C., Sir, 1847-1920 (Correspondent)
Cadwalader, John L. (John Lambert), 1836-1914 (Correspondent)
Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919 (Correspondent)
Dewey, Melvil, 1851-1931 (Correspondent)
Fletcher, Robert, 1823-1912 (Correspondent)
Gilman, Daniel C. (Daniel Coit), 1831-1908 (Correspondent)
Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir), 1829-1914 (Correspondent)
Pepper, William, 1843-1898 (Correspondent)
Smith, Stephen, 1823-1922 (Correspondent)
Sternberg, George Miller, 1838-1915 (Correspondent)
Billings family (Contributor)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (Contributor)
Carnegie Institute of Technology (Contributor)
Committee of Fifty for the Investigation of the Liquor Problem (Contributor)
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) (Contributor)
National Board of Health (U.S.) (Contributor)
New York Public Library (Contributor)
United States. Army Medical Department (1968- ) (Contributor)
University of Pennsylvania. Hospital. Laboratory of Hygiene (Contributor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1862 - 1913
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 304
Topics
Alcohol -- Physiological effect
Communicable diseases
Epidemics
Medicine, Military -- United States
Public health -- United States
Public libraries -- New York (N.Y.)
Science -- United States -- Societies, etc
Librarians
Surgeons
United States -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Medical care -- History
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Genres
Correspondence
Architectural drawings
Diaries
Photographs
Prints
Scrapbooks
Personal narratives
Notes
Biographical/historical: John Shaw Billings (1838-1913) was an American surgeon, hospital planner and librarian. He served as a U.S. Army surgeon and was responsible for creating the nation's foremost medical library, now the National Library of Medicine. He served as special advisor to the trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital in planning and organizing that institution. After retiring from the Army in 1895, Billings was named the first Director of the New York Public Library. He helped create the NYPL by combining the Astor and Lenox Libraries into a public research library and building a branch library system for three of the boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx). He also planned and oversaw the construction of the Central Library building which was opened to the public in 1911.
Content: Records of Billings' tenure as Director of The New York Public Library are part of the Library's Archives
Acquisition: Gift, Billings, John Shaw - Family, 1919
Physical Description
Extent: 48 linear feet (109 boxes); 53 microfilm reels
Type of Resource
Text
Identifiers
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12077730
MSS Unit ID: 304
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): af945d80-faa5-0138-1a88-0242ac110002
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