July 23, 2002
MEDIA CONTACT: Trent Stockton
PHONE: 410-955-8665
E-MAIL: tstockt1@jhmi.edu

Owsei Temkin, Renowned Historian of Medicine, Dies  

Owsei Temkin, M.D., former director of the Institute of the History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University and William H. Welch Professor Emeritus, died on Thursday, July 18. He was 99.

Temkin, who lived in north Baltimore, was one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of medicine and on the role of medical science in culture and society. Throughout his career, he was actively engaged in interpreting the science and art of medicine, both classical and modern, from the 5th Century B.C. to the modern era of today.

"I remember Dr. Temkin for his wisdom, his vast knowledge and ready laugh," says Gert H. Brieger, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of History of Science, Medicine and Technology at Hopkins, and a former student, long-time friend and colleague of Temkin. "His scholarship, kindness and modesty served as a model for us in the department."

Temkin was born Oct. 6, 1902, in Minsk, Russia. He and his parents emigrated to Leipzig, Germany, in 1905. Temkin studied medicine and history of medicine at the University of Leipzig, where he received his medical degree in 1927. He joined the faculty of the Institute of the History of Medicine at Hopkins in 1932, where he was director and William H. Welch Professor from 1958 to 1968.

"Temkin was a great educator," says Brieger. "He was captivating in the classroom, but he was so effective because the students sensed the great respect Tempkin held for his pupils."

Temkin was author of hundreds of articles on the history of medicine, and he wrote a dozen books. His most recent book, "On Second Thought," and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science, was published this year by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
A widely recognized scholar, Temkin was elected to the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He was president of the American Association for the History of Medicine, and from 1948 to 1968, he was editor of The Bulletin of the History of Medicine, aided by his life-long collaborator, assistant editor and wife, the late C. Lilian Temkin.

Temkin was the recipient of numerous awards, including the History of Science Society’s Sarton Medal and the Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in the Humanities, awarded by the American Council of Learned Societies.

In his spare time, he enjoyed walking, music and detective stories.

Temkin is survived by two daughters, Ann Josephson Temkin and Judith Temkin Irvine.

There will be no formal funeral service, but in honor of Temkin’s one hundredth birthday, the faculty of the Department of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology at Hopkins and invited scholars will hold a special memoriam and symposium in his honor on Oct. 5, 2002.

On the Web:

Owsei Temkin: The Man Who Knew Welch, from Hopkins Medical News:

The Department of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology at Hopkins:

Photo Credit: The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Photographer : William C. Hamilton.


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