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The University of Iowa Libraries

Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Papers of John Martin
MsC 501
Collection Dates: 1926-2000
1.5 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright: Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials.

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: Dr. Martin began giving his papers to the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries in 1994. .

Photographs: Box 1

Dr. John Martin

Scope and Contents

The papers of John Martin consist of 1.5 linear feet of manuscripts dating from 1926 -- 2000. The collection primarily concerns Dr. Martin's association with the University of Iowa. The establishment of the John Martin Rare Book Room with the donation of his outstanding collection of rare medical books, his sponsorship of essay contests for medical students, his participation in the History of Medicine Society, and his other generous donations to the University of Iowa Foundation are well documented. However, the papers also contain more personal materials, such as his military records, curriculum vitae, autobiographical sketches, and a watercolor painting given to him and inscribed by "Mario, 6/28/45."

Biographical Note

John Martin (1904 -- 1996) was born in Keithsburg, Illinois, the youngest of six children. Martin received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Lewis Institute of Chicago in 1930. He then attended Northwestern University Medical School earning his M.S. in 1934 and his M.D. the following year. Continuing his education, Dr. Martin went on to study neurophysiology and his Ph.D. was granted in 1941.

Dr. Martin began his professional career at his alma mater, Northwestern University Medical School. He rose through the ranks to the position of associate professor of surgery. His tenure at Northwestern was interrupted by World War II. He entered the military in 1942 and served in hospitals in North Africa and Italy. He was awarded a bronze star and retired from the armed forces as a colonel. After the war, Martin returned to Northwestern where he remained until 1952. Returning to the Army Medical Corps, Dr. Martin was instrumental in the establishment of a neurosurgical residency program at Walter Reed Hospital. He was chief of the neurosurgical service there from 1952 to 1955. After retiring from the military with a disability, Dr. Martin moved to the small Iowa town of Clarinda, where he had a limited hospital consulting practice in neurology. He was appointed clinical professor of surgery at the University of Iowa's College of Medicine in 1978. He published some fifty scientific papers and between 1935 and 1978, gave over seventy-five presentations on subjects ranging from anatomy to clinical neurology and neurosurgery.

Dr. Martin began collecting rare and valuable medical books in 1947. His first purchase was a first edition of Andreas Vesalius' De Humanis Corporis Fabrica Libra Septum, published in 1543. He continued to collect these books whenever he could afford to do so, and often when he could not, for the rest of his life. When his house in Clarinda was broken into in 1971, Dr. Martin began to be concerned about the safety of his collection. This led him to give his collection to the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City to form the John Martin Rare Book Room in the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. The collection numbered over 3000 entries at the time of his death. He considered this collection as the work for which he would be remembered as making a difference. Dr. Martin died in Iowa City, Iowa at the age of ninety-two.

Related Material

See Martin's faculty vertical file

Dupuytren, Guillaume, 1777-1835.Oral lessons from the surgical clinic given at the Hôtel-Dieu of Paris. Hardin Library For Health Sci Rare Book RD30 .D9613 1987 a

Mascagni, Paolo, 1755-1815.Prodrome of a work on the system of lymphatic vessels containing 24 plates, in folio. Hardin Library For Health Sci Rare Book QM197 .M3713 1986a

Box Contents List

Box 1

Biographical and personal

Carol A. Bowman Creative Writing Contest for Medical Students, 1994 -- 1996

The Chicago Literary Club Year Book, 1995 -- 1996


1945 -- 1977

1978 -- 1989

1990 -- 1996


Dale Bentz, 1974 -- 1996

Correspondence with Dick Caplan 1979-1994

Martin, Eimas, and Quaritch, June-July 1987

Curriculum vitae for Dr. Martin.

History of Medicine Society at the University of Iowa.

Audio tape of lecture, 1982

Correspondence, clippings, brochures, pamphlets, publicity, lectures, etc., 1978 -- 2000

John Martin History of Medicine Essay Contest at the University of Iowa. Correspondence, submissions, publicity, etc., 1984 -- 1996

John Martin Rare Book Room in the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences at the University of Iowa. Correspondence, brochures, clippings, etc., 1974 -- 1995

Military service records, 1940 -- 1946.


Obituaries, memorial tributes, letters of condolence, etc., 1996 -- 1997



Projector slides of Haiti

Watercolor painting


---. "The birth, care and feeding of a rare book collection" speech by John Martin. Videotape

---. "Girolamo, Germs, and the Shepherd Boy" by John Martin. Iowa Medical Society, vol. 70, no. 1 (Jan. 1980). Published copy of article with correspondence, 1979 -- 1980.

---. Graduation address given by Dr. Martin at Iowa Western Community College.

---. Heirs of Hippocrates. Correspondence, clippings, publicity, etc., 1974 -- 1994

---. The Life and Times of John Martin, M.D., Ph.D. Autobiographical sketches. (2 folders)

---. "My Visits to Haiti."

---. "On Re-reading on Death and Dying"

---. "Recent Trends in Neurosurgery" by John Martin. Journal of Neurosurgery, vol. 15, no. 6 (1958). Reprint of published article.

---.  "The Syndrome of Thrombosis of the Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery (Wallenberg Syndrome)" by John Martin. Typescript draft of an article.

---. "That Old House"

---. "Vignettes Méditerranénnes" by John Martin.