In this letter, Kelly discusses a second more personal critique of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by Flexner, which
had lately been circulated.
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2 (1,109,761 Bytes)
1911-05-09 (May 9, 1911)
Kelly, Howard A.
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Bibliotheca Osleriana
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
Baltimore, May 9, 1911.
Dear Dr. Osler:
What is going to happen here is hard to say. I wrote you of the report that was circulated among us members of the faculty
after Abraham Flexner's visit; I wrote you that Flexner did not visit me at all but took his opinions from some other
sources. Dr. Welch and Dr. Williams decided that they would not disturb clinical men like Drs. Young and Finney but would
let them stay in under the new organization, so they were assured by Dr. Williams after our last faculty meeting that they
would be allowed to remain.
Since then it has transpired that another secret printed report has been circulated among the trustees coming from Mr. Flexner,
as we all believe with Dr. William's and Dr. Welch's knowledge and concurrence. This report is excessively personal,
taking up different heads of departments and their associates and in many instances severely condemning their work and methods.
I enclose you a copy of that part of the report which affects my department. Dr. Welch was excessively annoyed when he found
this report had gotten into other hands but the trustees. None of the rest of us knew anything about its existence until copy
was given to Dr. Young by one of the trustees who had received it. My objection to the first report was its personality, but
Dr. Welch deprecated so bringing personal matters into the issue at all that I withdrew a minority report which I had already
submitted and read; and now it transpires that, with Dr. Welch's knowledge I fear, this other intensely personal report
has been circulated among the very people to whom I desired to appeal. I refrain from making any comments as to the justice
or honorable character of such methods.
I send you a statement of the activities in my own department during the last two years. I wish you were here that I might
advise with you. I called on Dr. Welch today but he had gone to Atlantic City. I am not worried about this matter and not
anxious. I believe our trustees will do justice but I am not even anxious for that. I will take contentedly and in a good
spirit whatever may be forthcoming.
I have been working now for about ten years on my Kidney Book and am at present putting through the press my Cyclopedia of
Medical Biographies in two volumes. I have undertaken some of this outside work simply to show that a doctor can be broader
than his specialty.
A strong feeling is growing up among all the junior man against Dr. Williams, who they think has been unduly active in these
matters. I cannot say whether this is justified or not. Should their suspicions in the end proved to be well founded, he will
have utterly ruined himself for all future relationship of usefulness to the profession.