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Samuel X. Radbill papers II

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 2/037-05
The Samuel X Radbill papers evidence Radbill’s deep and unrelenting interest in the history of medicine, particularly the history of pediatrics and dermatology, folklore, ancient medicine, medical art and medical bookplates. Of note, are three of Radbill’s personal collections related to the history of medicine: collections of pamphlets, brochures and articles; medical art and other pictorial works; and medical journals and texts--all dating from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. In addition, there are research notes, manuscripts and typescripts for articles and books written by Radbill, as well as a small group of miscellaneous personal papers, most of which relate directly to his research and writing.

The collection dates from 1635 to 1987 (bulk: circa 1800 to 1985) and is divided into six series. The first three series house materials collected by Radbill that are related to the history of medicine: “Pamphlets, brochures and articles,” “Medical art and other pictorial materials” and ”Medical Texts and Journals.” Researchers should note, there are several languages represented in the first three series, most notably English, Latin, French, German, Hebrew and Japanese. Following, are three series that more directly evidence Radbill’s personal efforts to conduct research on the history of medicine as well as to organize his collections: “Research and writing,” “Personal card catalog” and “Personal papers.”

The materials housed in this collection dovetail with other Samuel X Radbill paper and book collections held at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Please refer to individual series descriptions for more information on the content of this collection.

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1800 - 1987
  • 1635 - 1987

Creator

Language of Materials

In addition to English, this collection includes material in French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Latin.

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Extent

47.8 Linear feet (52 containers, 64 volumes)

Overview

Samuel X Radbill (1901-1987) began his medical career as a general practitioner in 1926 and became a pediatrician in 1938, when he was certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. Radbill was perhaps better known as a medical historian, and collector of bookplates and old and rare medical texts than as a pediatrician. He believed that the study of medicine’s past was useful to its practice, and he encouraged many of his professional colleagues to examine the history of their specialties. The Samuel X Radbill papers evidences Radbill’s deep and unrelenting interest in the history of medicine, particularly the history of pediatrics and dermatology, folklore, ancient medicine, medical art and medical bookplates. Of note, in the collection are three of Radbill’s personal collections related to the history of medicine: collections of pamphlets, brochures and articles; medical art and other pictorial works; and medical journals and texts--all dating from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. In addition, there are research notes, manuscripts and typescripts for articles and books written by Radbill, as well as a small group of miscellaneous personal papers, most of which relate directly to his research and writing. The collection dates from 1635 to 1987 (bulk: circa 1800 to 1985). Researchers should note, there are several languages represented in this collection, most notably English, Latin, French, German, Hebrew and Japanese.

Biographical note

(This biographical note was taken directly from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia's finding aid for Acc. 1989-105-01)

Samuel X Radbill was born in Philadelphia in 1901. He spent his childhood in Eastwick, and graduated from South Philadelphia High School. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1924. He interned at the Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster in 1924 and in 1925, became resident at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He married Frances Hoffman, a South Philadelphia schoolteacher, on December 27, 1925, and opened practice in their first home in January 1926. By 1930, Frances had given up teaching to work as his nurse, which she did until his retirement in June 1982.

Radbill began his medical career as a general practitioner. While the bulk of his practice was with children from the beginning, he did not officially become a pediatrician until 1938, when he was certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. He became a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and joined the pediatrics staff at Philadelphia General Hospital as well.

During the early 1930s Radbill helped found and run three free local pediatric clinics in Philadelphia (located at Patterson School, Wolfe School, and the McKean-Carey School) in addition to his regular practice. He maintained evening office hours at least three days a week until his retirement.

In World War II he served as an examiner for the local draft board until enlisting for active duty in 1942. When he was called up in January 1943 as a Captain, his assignments included service as Chief of the Communicable Disease Section at Ashburn General Hospital in McKinney, Texas. He also served as Chief of Medical Service and Venereal Disease Control Officer at Fort Crockett, Galveston, Texas. He also conducted a civilian pediatric clinic at the fort.

Radbill’s professional activities were extensive, including membership in both major medical associations and several historical associations, and service on numerous committees related to these groups. In medicine, his memberships included the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia county Medical Society, serving at different times on the Board of Directors, as vice-President, and as Chairman of the Library committee. He helped organize PCMS’s Education and Scientific Trust, and served on the Executive Committee of that Trust, which coordinated the Greater Philadelphia Health Fair in1964 and 1965. Radbill also acted as a Philadelphia county Medical Society delegate to the Pennsylvania Medical Society for a number of years in the late 1960s and served as Chairman of the Philadelphia county Medical Society’s Bicentennial Committee in 1975.

Radbill was perhaps better known as a medical historian and collector of bookplates and old and rare medical texts than as a pediatrician. He described his fascination with books as beginning while he was in college and credits the old medical texts he began to collect with prompting him to take up the study of the history of medicine. He believed that the study of medicine’s past was useful to its practice in the present and encouraged many of his professional colleagues to examine the history of their specialties. Sometimes, he was able to combine these concerns, helping to organize the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Pediatric History Club, organizing several exhibits on the history of medicine and of pediatrics at meetings of the American Medical Association and the American Association for the History of Medicine, and participating enthusiastically in all activities of the Section on Medical History of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Radbill acted as an expert on medical history and the history of pediatrics, particularly in the context of institutional care, at both medical meetings and at meetings of associations such as AAHM. He lectured on medical history and on pediatrics both past and present at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and at Philadelphia General Hospital and published numerous articles on medical history in both medical journals and historical publications. Topics included the history of child abuse, teething, measles, institutional care of children in Philadelphia from the eighteenth century onwards, the practice of pediatrics in ancient Mesopotamia and medieval Europe and the lives of medical luminaries such as Benjamin Rush and Robley Dunglison. Radbill had contacts with many of the most prominent historians of medicine as well as with other doctors interested in medical history.

Radbill’s collecting interests did not confine themselves to the United States. He collected bookplates and traded in stamps, documents, coins and medical texts with scholars and collectors from throughout Europe as well as Japan and China. His main collecting interests were bookplates and medical texts, and he formed close friendships with a number of other collectors on other continents, supplemented with several trips to Europe. He and other American collectors aided those in Europe with mailings of food, coffee, and luxuries such as stockings in the postwar period as well as swapping collectibles. Radbill concerned himself with the needy in Philadelphia as well, combining a fondness for his old neighborhood of Eastwick with a concern for the development of health care for the city’s needy in his chairmanship of the Philadelphia District, West Area Health and Welfare Council Subcommittee on health Services for Eastwick in 1958 to 1959, as part of the Eastwick redevelopment project. He also involved himself deeply in the affairs of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, to which he was elected a fellow in 1943. In addition to his participation in the College’s Section on Medical History, for which he served at different times as both clerk and chairman, he was a member of the Council and the Bicentennial committee and was a longtime member of the Library Committee. He was concerned with shaping the direction of the development of the library as well as with specific administrative matters. Radbill’s contributions to both his vocation and his avocation were recalled by other physicians, Fellows of the College, and by other medical historians at a memorial gathering at the College shortly after his death in November 1987.

Related Archival Materials note

College of Physicians of Philadelphia: Samuel X Radbill papers (MSS 2/0037-01)

Processing Information note

The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.

This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.

Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.
Title
Samuel X. Radbill papers
Author
Finding aid prepared by Courtney Smerz
Date
2010 September 27
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Sponsor
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

Contact:
19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States
215-399-2001