This issue is a celebration of the life of an extraordinary individual, whose passion for books and whose generosity combined to make the Dr. Martin B. Raskin Rare Book Collection the largest collection in Florida, one of the largest in the Southeastern United States, and perhaps the largest collection at one of the nation's younger medical schools. The collection was named in September in memory of its greatest benefactor who sadly passed away on August 7, 2004.
Born in New York City in 1921, Dr. Raskin began collecting medical books during his medical school days at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Following his graduation in 1945 and a residency at Baptist Hospital in New York in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Raskin continued to collect books as he rose to medical director at Baptist Hospital, delivered close to 5,000 babies over a period of almost 50 years, was appointed professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, and became a member of the Kings County Medical Society Peer Review Board.
He also became, in his own modest words, "a good book hunter." He would visit bookstores wherever he traveled; he advertised for books and was known to every antiquarian bookseller who dealt in medical books; and, in his heyday, "he hit every auction in New York City." His life-long quest saw the develo ment of a collection of more than 5,000 books in pristine condition and representing all medical specialties.
Almost half of the collection was published before the Civil War ended in 1864 and is therefore classified as 'Rare" by the Calder Library. Of these, almost 200 were published in the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries. Pictured below is an Italian translation published in 1549 of a book by the famous Greek physician Galen, the oldest book donated by Dr. Raskin. More tha400 titles are listed in the 5th edition of the classic Medical Bibliography known as 'Garrison - Morton,' which lists all significant titles in the development of medicine since ancient times.
In 1985, Dr. Raskin and his wife, Dr. Gladys F. Raskin, retired to Lake Worth, where he created a warehouse for his collection and continued adding to it. In 1996, following his wife's successful spinal surgery at the School of Medicine, he decided to donate his collection to the Louis Calder Memorial Library where "I know everything will be given a fine home and care." This began what became an eight-year relationship between the Drs. Raskin and the Calder Library.
According to Henry L. Lemkau, Jr., MLS, JD., Director and Chairman of the Louis Calder Memorial Library and Biomedical Communications, "His gift to the Library is extraordinary in its size, scope and quality and brings depth and prestige to the University, its School of Medicine and its Library."
The famous first edition of William Beaumont's Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion pictured to the right, is represented by no less than two copies. To quote William Osler, "To the medical bibliographer there are few more treasured Americana than the brown-backed, poorly printed octavo volume of 280 pages with the imprint 'Plattsburgh, Printed by F.P. Allen, 1833."
Among the books by William Harvey is an important 1648 edition of his Exercitatio Anatomica De Motu Cordis & Sanguinis, originally published in 1628. Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Harvey's bibliographer, writes: "Harvey's De Motu Cordis is justly considered to be one of the most fruitful and important books ever published. Harvey's treatise is, in fact, more important as a documentation of scientific method in biological research than as an annunciation of the fact of the circulation of the blood."
Louis Calder Memorial Library
- Dr. Martin B. Raskin Rare Book Collection
- books published before 1864 2,324 vols.
- Other Named Collections - Anderson, Blank,
Millard, Schiff and Weinstein collections 1,560 vols.
- Historical Books - published after 1864 but
of sufficient import, scarcity or value to
warrant separate and secure housing 4,683 vols
- Archives/Manuscript Collection 375 linear feet
Papper Archives 80 linear feet
Mary and Edward Norton Library
- Historical Books - all rare, valuable, scarce and
important works in ophthalmology 2,852 vols.
- Archives/Manuscript Collection 146 linear feet