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CHRISTIAN ARCHIBALD HERTER, M.D. (1865-1910)* ROBERT M. HAWTHORNE, JR.f Christian Herter makes two claims to our attention today. The first is the historical claim: that of understanding an important man, in some ways a key figure, against the background of his time. The second is the personal claim, the extra dimension of all biography: the urge to know by empathy, to explore the mind and feelings of a man broadly educated , highly productive, and uniquely placed socially and economically. The outline of Herter's brief 45 years is briefly stated. Born September 3, 1865, in Glenville, Connecticut, he was educated mostly privately and received his M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1885, when he was only 19 years old. Thereafter he pursued his own postdoctoral program, working for a year with William H. Welch at Johns Hopkins, and with August Forel in Switzerland . From Forel he gained an interest in nervous diseases; his earliest listed publication deals with hypnotism and mental disease, and his first two books were his own text, The Diagnosis of the Diseases of the Nervous System, and a translation from the French of Hippolyte Bernheim's Suggestive Therapeutics: A Treatise on the Nature and Uses ofHypnotism. But his interest soon turned to the relation of the laboratory sciences to medicine, then a relatively unexplored field. Herter established his own laboratory, one of perhaps three or four in the country and only a few dozen in the world where chemistry, bacteriology, pathology, and pharmacology were brought together by a few men whose skills embraced all these fields; and over the last 17 years of his life he produced, sometimes with co-workers, five more books and about 70 papers. Herter practiced medicine privately for as long as his schedule permit- *Presented before the Division of History of Chemistry at the 166th National Meeting, American Chemical Society, Chicago, August 29, 1973. tDepartment of Chemistry, Purdue University, North Central Campus, Westville, Indiana 46391. Nearly all the unattributed personal recollections in this article are drawn from interviews with Christian Herter's two older daughters, Christine (Mrs. William Sergeant Kendall) and Mary Dows (Mrs. Daniel Crena de Iongh), on June 12 and July 24, 1973, respectively. I wish to thank Mrs. Kendall and Mrs. Crena de Iongh and express my profound gratitude for their time and effort, not merely in the interviews, but in the enormous amount of personal memorabilia they sought out and made available to me. In addition, Mrs. Crena de Iongh has read this article in manuscript with great care and has kindly saved me from a number of errors both of emphasis and of fact. 24 I Robert JVi. Hawthorne, Jr. · Christian Archibald Herter ted, from 1886 to about 1896; was visiting physician at the New York City Hospital, at Bellevue, and at the Rockefeller Institute Hospital, the last untiljust before his death; and taught at both Bellevue and Columbia . He was one of the founders of the Rockefeller Institute and the moving force in its establishment of an associated teaching and research hospital. He was co-founder and editor oftheJournal ofBiological Chemistry ; founder (with his wife) of the Herter Lecture series, which still continues at Bellevue and Johns Hopkins; charter member of the American Society of Biological Chemists; and one of the founders of the Harvey Society of New York. He was a member of the original Board of Scientific Referees appointed by Theodore Roosevelt following on the pioneering Food and Drug Act of 1906. In 1885 Herter married Susan Dows, daughter of David Dows—of the Rock Island railroad—the country's largest grain merchant. They had five children: two boys who died very young, and three daughters who survive today (1974). He died after a wasting nervous illness of some duration, on December 5, 1910. With this bare recital of facts as a framework, let us examine Christian Herter's remarkably varied life and personality from a number of viewpoints . First we shall consider his work; then we shall look at his family and social background and see how they contributed to a breadth of culture, a warmth and elegance of what is currently called...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 24-40
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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