Letter from William G. Reidy to Michael E. DeBakey
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1955-11-15 (November 15, 1955)
Reidy, William G.
United States Senate. Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. Professional Staff Member
DeBakey, Michael E.
MS C 47, National Library of Medicine (U.S.) Papers relating to the construction of a new medical library, 1874-1959, Modern
Manuscripts Collection, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine (USA).
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Supporting the Medical Enterprise: DeBakey and National Library of Medicine
Letter from Michael E. DeBakey to William G. Reidy (November 7, 1955)
Many thanks for your kind letter of November 7. Our meeting, which was quite well attended, went off very well. Amongst those
present were Dr. Alan Gregg of the Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. Bruno Gebhard of the Cleveland Health Museum, Mr. Metcalf,
Librarian Emeritus of Harvard, Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Kenard of the AMA, Dr. Willard Camalier of the American Dental Association,
Dr. Williams of the American Public Health Association, and John Kelly and Ken Williamson of the American Hospital Association.
Our discussion lasted some two and a half hours and was both informative, and, for the most part, quite enthusiastic.
The general consensus of opinion seemed to be that, while, of course, if the Senators do push for legislation to create a
national library and museum it might militate against the almost assured construction of a new building to house the Armed
Services Medical Library, nonetheless the risk should be taken. The suggestion was made that perhaps the matter could be so
handled that the Armed Forces would proceed with their attempts to secure funds for the construction of such a building in
Bethesda while the separate legislation was being processed, and that the new legislation could contain a provision calling
for the transfer of said structure to the new institution at whatever stage of development it might be when the legislation
passed. The majority of those present also seemed to agree that it would be desirable to combine the idea of a national museum
of health with that of a national library of health, although it was further agreed that it might be desirable to have them
housed in separate buildings -- the library in Bethesda, the museum in downtown Washington. The two representatives of the
AMA who were present were not, of course, in a position to speak for the Association with respect to the proposal we put before
them. They did point out that the AMA was on record as favoring the construction of a new library by the Department of Defense.
They agreed, however, that this position had been taken without any discussion of the desirability or feasibility of detaching
the library from the Department of Defense.
Currently we are marking time awaiting receipt from Dr. Gebhard of some detailed suggestions concerning the proper functions,
scope, size, etc. of a national museum of health. When that information reaches us we shall, as I previously explained, attempt
to rough draft the proposed legislation. At that time, of course, we shall see to it that you receive a copy inasmuch as we
will value your comments most highly. Dr. Gebhard's present commitments are such that I don't expect to receive his
material until shortly after December 1 so I will have little to add to this when you arrive in Washington. Nonetheless, I
do look forward to seeing you again and hope you will let know whether the meeting of the National Research Council is such
as to leave you some time to spare.