Monday, March 17, 2008

First Gem from the Rough: Binsie

I promised I would share some of the gems we discover in the chaotic boxes of the recent donation of 28 storage cartons of miscellanea, so here's #1:



Otto Saly Binswanger was born April 20, 1854 in Osterburg, Bavaria. After many years of schooling in Germany, he came to America circa 1877 with an advanced degree in scientific and analytical chemistry. He attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine, graduating with honors in 1882. In May of that same year, he relocated to Portland. From 1882-1886, Binswanger served as Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology at the Willamette University Medical Department; seceding from WUMD with a cohort of colleagues, he assumed the same position at the newly formed University of Oregon Medical School in 1887. He remained on the faculty at UOMS until his death in 1917.

"Binsie" (as he was affectionately called) was often baited by his students because of his thick German accent ("sulphite" and "sulphide" sounded the same to classes of confused young chemists). Perhaps that's what made him, in the minds of some, "inordinately strict." The high score in his classes was typically 70; a score of 71 or--almost unheard of--73 indicated true brilliance. However much they may have teased him, many students loved Binsie, and several would never have made it through medical school without his financial support.

This image was donated to UOMS (then UOHSC) by Otto's son Alvin D. Binswanger in 1976.

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