John Alexander Witherspoon (1864-1929) biographical file

Identifier: EBL-0963

  • Staff Only


Medical Education Past and Present, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Proceedings of the American Medical College 1991, obituaries, photographs.


  • 1911 - 1929

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Historical or Biographical Note

John Alexander Witherspoon served as professor of medicine and later clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and was elected President of the American Medical Association in 1912. Dr. Witherspoon was born in Columbia, Tennessee in 1864. After studying medicine two years in a physician's office, he entered the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and graduated near the top of his class in 1887. He returned to Columbia to practice, and he was soon appointed to the professorship of physiology and later to the professorship of medicine in the University of Tennessee College Of Medicine in Nashville. In 1895, Vanderbilt Chancellor James Kirkland requested his assistance in the reorganization of medical department. As Professor of Medicine, Dr. Witherspoon went abroad to inspect medical schools and to obtain equipment. His 33 year service to Vanderbilt Medical School is marked by his advocacy for improving the profession by working to raise the standards of medical education. He can share at least partial credit with the developments that led to funds being secured from the Rockefeller Foundation and the eventual erection of a new hospital building and the second reorganization of the medical school in 1925. In addition to the presidency of the AMA, he served as president of other professional organizations and as editor of the Southern Medical Association Journal from 1908-1910. He died in Nashville, April 28, 1929.


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John Alexander Witherspoon (1864-1929) biographical file
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Eskind Biomedical Library
2209 Garland Ave.
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