Staff of the Institute of the History of Medicine. Left to right, Welch, Fielding H.
Garrison, John Rathbone Oliver, Owsei Temkin, Henry E. Sigerist, October 1932
Owsei Temkin and William Welch
Welch met Owsei Temkin while in Leipzig in 1928. He recorded in his diary,
"Tempkin seems a capable industrious worker", and reflected, "...perhaps
worth thinking about him for Baltimore."
Detail from Diary.
Full page of Diary, August 28, 1928
Click on image to view full page.
As I knew him...
Owsei Temkin, Welch Professor Emeritus, History of Science, Medicine and
Technology, Johns Hopkins University.
"When Dr. Welch, in preparation for his new job in medical
history, visited the Institute of the History of Medicine at the University of Leipzig, he
and I shared the same working room. My memory still retains Dr. Welch as a jovial man with
a half-smoked cigar between his fingers and some of the ashes on his waistcoat. I cannot
remember any of our conversations except his once button-holing me at the door and asking
whether I had ever thought of coming to the United States? I felt confused but whatever my
answer may have been a few years later here I was with an office next to Dr. Welchs.
Dr Welch struck me as a man who appreciated the good things life had
to offer, for instance, the dinners with their wonderful oysters on the half shell that
were an almost obligatory prelude to any formal dinner like those sometimes preceding
meetings of the medical history club that he and William Osler had founded at the
Many of the pictures of a portly Dr. Welch support what I just said.
Those things explain the nickname of "Popsy" that was lovingly bestowed upon him
- behind his back, not to his face. Ashes on the waistcoat and oysters notwithstanding,
Dr. Welch was a man of innate dignity as Sargent painted him in his picture of the four
doctors. This was the man who had helped to bring scientific medicine to America. There
was nothing pompous about him. When the speaker at the medical history club had finished
his paper, Dr. Welch would discuss it clearly, succinctly and well informed. These were
the things that mattered. Even in my little world of a young member I felt that Dr. Welch
took a genuine interest in my work.
I was fortunate having known Dr. Welch and I am proud of carrying his
name in my academic life."
20 March 2000