Warhin, Aldred Scott, 1866-1931

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Aldred Scott Warthin was a pathologist, teacher, and author of international reputation who served the University of Michigan Medical School as director of the Pathology Laboratory from 1903 until his death in 1931.

Born in Greensburg, Indiana in 1866, as a youth Warthin often accompanied his physician uncle collecting specimens. He also took piano lessons to please his invalid mother and entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where, in 1887, he was awarded a teacher's diploma. Warthin attended Indiana University, where he pursued his interest in science and received an A.B. degree in 1888. Warthin then entered the University of Michigan Medical School, supporting himself by teaching music lessons and serving as a church organist. In 1891 he was awarded an M.D., followed by a Ph.D. in 1893.

Warthin began his medical career as an assistant and demonstrator in internal medicine at the university. He assumed charge of the pathology laboratory in 1896. He requested all specimens from clinics be sent to him for diagnosis and soon established a close relationship between pathology and clinical medicine. In 1903 he was named director of the lab and professor. From 1893 to 1900 Warthin spent his summers in European pathology laboratories in Vienna, Dresden, and Freiburg.

Subjects of particular interest to Warthin ranged from the problems of tuberculosis to the importance of constitution and heredity in leukemia and hemolymph nodes as well as genetic tendencies to cancer and constitutional aspects of hyperthyroidism. Following World War I he carried on extensive work on the pathology of mustard gas poisoning. He also addressed the social hygiene problems inherent in the spread of venereal diseases at this time. The last twenty years of his life were devoted to the study of the pathology of syphilis particularly involving the heart, aorta, pancreas, adrenals and testes.

Warthin's writings appeared in the form of pathology textbooks and translations, as well as articles in journals and textbooks. From 1924 to 1931 Warthin served as editor of the Annals of Clinical Medicine (later the Annals of Internal Medicine ). Among the books he authored is The Physician of the Dance of Death (1931), a work prompted by his interest in books and pictures he collected which depicted the "Dance of Death." This volume and two others, Old Age- The Major Involution (1929) and The Creed of a Biologist (1930), reflected Warthin's thinking on immortality and human nature.

In 1927 he was presented with a special tribute, a "Festschrift" comprised of fifty-eight contributions to medical science from his students and early teachers. Warthin was also awarded the Henry Russel Award in 1929 by the University of Michigan.

At the Race Betterment conference in Battle Creek in 1928, Warthin expressed his controversial views that religion and the concept of forgiveness of sin only served to harm the human race by the continual transmission of social diseases. He also discouraged marrying for romantic love and encouraged those contemplating marriage to check fully into their ancestral backgrounds to avoid the transmittal of inheritable disease to future generations. Warthin believed the only means to physical betterment and long life came through eugenics.

Warthin was prominently involved in professional organizations, serving as the president for many of them. These presidencies included the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists in 1908, International Association of Medical Museums from 1910 to 1913, American Society for Experimental Pathology in 1924, Association of American Physicians in 1924, American Association for Cancer Research in 1928, and the American Association of the History of Medicine, 1930-1931. He served as well as the vice president of the American Association of Physicians from 1925 until his death. He died in Ann Arbor in 1931.

From the guide to the Aldred Scott Warthin papers, 1893-1947, 1923-1931, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

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creatorOf Aldred Scott Warthin papers, 1893-1947, 1923-1931 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
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Relation Name
associatedWith Adami, J. George (John George), 1862-1926 person
associatedWith Beal, Junius Emery, 1860-1942 person
associatedWith Clements, William L. (William Lawrence), 1861-1934 person
associatedWith Flexner, Simon, 1863-1946 person
associatedWith Hektoen, Ludvig, 1863-1951 person
associatedWith Jacobi, A. (Abraham), 1830-1919 person
associatedWith Kellogg, John Harvey, 1852-1943 person
associatedWith Krumbhaar, E. B. (Edward Bell), 1882- person
associatedWith Mayo, William James, 1861-1939 person
associatedWith Osler, William, Sir, 1849-1919 person
associatedWith Rous, Peyton, 1879-1970 person
associatedWith Sanford, Arthur Hawley, 1882- person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Pathology. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Medical School. corporateBody
associatedWith Vaughan, Victor C. (Victor Clarence), 1851-1929 person
associatedWith Warthin, Aldred Scott, 1866-1931 person
associatedWith Welch, William Henry, 1850-1934 person
associatedWith Weller, Carl Vernon, 1887- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Annals of clinical medicine


Birth 1866

Death 1931

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