Benjamin, John A. (John Allison), 1906-

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John Allison Benjamin, M.D., urologist, surgeon, scientist, teacher, historian, bibliophile and philanthropist, was born in 1906 in Salmon, Idaho; received B.A. in Zoology from University of California at Los Angeles (1930) and M.D. from Johns Hopkins University (1934); intern in genitourinary surgery and gynecology with Hugh Young in Baltimore; urological resident at University of Rochester Medical Center, 1936-1939; joined urology practice of Elmer Belt in Los Angeles, 1939-1941; private practive in Portland, Oregon, 1941-1942; appointment in Urological Surgery, University of Rochester, 1942-1971; married Mae McElman in 1942; moved to Los Angeles in 1971 to retire, but joined Dept. of Urology of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, 1971-1988; founder and President of the Society for Pediatric Urology; prominent in American Urological Association; editorial board member of Journal of urology. Benjamin died in Los Angeles on 25 December 1992.

From the description of Papers, 1925-1994. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 42941125

Biography

Biographical data on Dr. Benjamin can be found in the introductory material to the finding aid for "John A. Benjamin Papers", which is available online.

From the guide to the John A. Benjamin Papers Addendum, 1895-1993, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences)

Biography

John Allison Benjamin (1906-Dec. 25, 1992), M.D., urologist, surgeon, scientist, teacher, collector of a treasure trove of rare books in the history of medicine and science, and generous benefactor, was a self-made man. Innate capability and a driving work ethic propelled him, not privileged birth or extraordinary opportunities. His intellectual drive and ambition led to contacts with men who would act as role models, mentors, and friends until he had achieved his own renown, when he in turn became a gifted and conscientious teacher and mentor.

Dr. Benjamin had wide-ranging curiosity, interests, and achievements. First he was, according to many statements and hints to be found in these papers, a superb and warmly caring clinician; his patients seem to have adored him, and younger urologists gave credit to his example long after leaving his wards. Second, he was a very good scientist, doing animal experiments to further basic urological understanding; his work in developing cinematography of the urinary tract, in both dogs and humans, was pioneering. And third, with little background except some school Latin, through sheer perseverance and many hours of self study, he became a good historian of urology and a superb book collector, fashioning a well-focused collection of rare medical & scientific works that became renowned in its field.

The professional recognition Dr. Benjamin received as clinician and scientist is well documented in the papers. He was a founder and president of the Society for Pediatric Urology, prominent in the American Urological Association and several of its regional sections, editorial board member of the Journal of Urology, author of many chapters and many, many papers in the literature of urology, including its history. As a book collector and benefactor he was also widely hailed. In 1964 Dr. Benjamin presented his library of over 700 volumes of classics in medicine and science to the Biomedical Library of the University of California, Los Angeles, and for many years thereafter he added priceless volumes to that collection.

John A. Benjamin was born in Salmon, Idaho, the oldest of six children in a poor and troubled household. He attended the small local schools and escaped as soon as he was ready for college, to the home of relatives in Santa Ana, California. Commuting by streetcar, he entered UCLA at its old downtown location, a member of the first class to graduate, with a B.A. in Zoology, from the new Westwood campus in 1930. Then he entered The Johns Hopkins University Medical School, maintaining himself with money he had saved from working during college, further part-time jobs, and help from his So. California relatives. He received the M.D. degree in 1934.

Urology was already his primary field of interest. During the summer of 1933 he was awarded a student fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation, International Health Division, to study venereal disease in the Southern U.S. After graduation he interned in genitourinary surgery and gynecology with Dr. Hugh Young in Baltimore for a year, and spent the following year as general surgery intern with Dr. T.F. Riggs of Pierre, So. Dakota. Then followed urological residency training at the University of Rochester Medical Center, from 1936 to 1939.

After completion of his residency, Dr. Benjamin returned to Los Angeles to join the urology practice of Dr. E. Belt, where he stayed for two years. Elmer Belt served as a major role model -- not only as clinician and educator, but he also transferred his abiding fascination with the history of medicine and the collection of rare medical books to his young colleague. Dr. Benjamin himself stated that he owed his collecting drive to Dr. Belt's example.

Dr. Benjamin next shifted to private practice in Portland, Oregon, from 1941 to 1942. But then he received an invitation, eagerly accepted, to join the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Urological Surgery. At this time Dr. Benjamin married his second wife, Mae McElman Benjamin, with whom he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary a few months before his death. He continued as a full-time faculty member until 1957, then as part-time clinical professor until his retirement in 1971; during all this time he had a busy private practice.

The Benjamins moved back to So. California after retirement, but Dr. Benjamin soon grew restless with inactivity. Fortunately a professional friend grabbed the opportunity to recruit him, and in 1971 Dr. Benjamin joined the Department of Urology of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, where he practiced for seventeen more years.

Dr. Benjamin was survived by his wife, Mae, his four children and six grandchildren.

From the guide to the John Allison Benjamin Papers, 1925-1994, (Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn University of Michigan. News and Information Services. Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005 (bulk 1960-1995) Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf Benjamin, John A. (John Allison), 1906-. Papers, 1925-1994. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf John A. Benjamin Papers Addendum, 1895-1993 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division
creatorOf John Allison Benjamin Papers, 1925-1994 Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. History and Special Collections Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Urological Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Belt, Elmer, 1893-1980. person
associatedWith Donahue, Katharine E. S. person
associatedWith Donahue, Katharine E. S. person
associatedWith Gnudi, Martha Teach, 1908- person
associatedWith Goodwin, Willard E. person
associatedWith Goodwin, Willard E. person
associatedWith John A. Benjamin Collection of Medical History. corporateBody
associatedWith O'Malley, Charles Donald. person
associatedWith O'Malley, Charles Donald. person
associatedWith Steele, Victoria. person
associatedWith Steele, Victoria. person
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services. corporateBody
associatedWith Young, Hugh H., 1870-1945. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Urology
Urogenital System
History of medicine
Book collecting
Urology--history
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1906

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