OBITUARY: William (Bill) Kaye Beatty, 1926-2002

By Beatty, Virginia L. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, July 2003 | Go to article overview

OBITUARY: William (Bill) Kaye Beatty, 1926-2002


Beatty, Virginia L., Journal of the Medical Library Association


William (Bill) Kaye Beatty, medical bibliographer, educator, librarian/archivist, medical historian, and MLA fellow died on December 9, 2002, in Evanston, Illinois, of complications from heart disease and multiple myeloma.

Bill Beatty was born in Toronto, Canada, February 5, 1926. His schooling included Appleby in Canada (whose British "public school" traditions introduced him to cricket, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Greek grammar), schools in Indiana and Pennsylvania, and finally the Kent School in Connecticut. While there, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the 617th Field Artillery Observation Battalion in the Rome-Arno and Po Valley Campaigns of 1944-45.

After the war, he studied classics at Harvard (1946-49) and worked as a library intern at Widener. He continued his education at Columbia, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in classical languages and literature in 1951 and a master of science degree in library science in 1952. He commuted from Philadelphia to New York in the summer of 1955 to take Tom Fleming's course in medical librarianship at Columbia, and he later received MLA grade I certification (number 655).

On June 14, 1952, he married Virginia Lewis, a fellow library school student, and they moved to Wilmington, where she began work with the Atomic Energy Commission's Savannah River Project at DuPont. Bill commuted to Philadelphia, working at the College of Physicians, first as circulation librarian and, later, as assistant librarian. Its director, W. B. McDaniel II, had wide interests in classics and the history of medicine. He mentored Bill and encouraged him to consider medical Iibrarianship, and he named him editor of Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

In 1956, Bill became associate librarian and assistant (later associate) professor of medical bibliography at the University of Missouri-Columbia; he was also consultant on the design of the library for the newly expanded medical school. During this time, Bill offered courses in medical history to students, founded the university's Medical History Group, and established the A. R. McComas medical history contest for students. Ralph H. Parker [1], the university librarian, encouraged him to be active in library association work.

Bill joined Northwestern University in 1962, as professor of medical bibliography and as consultant on renovating the existing library. He also held the administrative appointment of medical librarian until his resignation from that post in 1974, when he began courses in the history of medicine for students and medical writing seminars for house staff and faculty. From 1976 onward, he divided his time between the Chicago and Evanston campuses, teaching at the one and serving as archival associate at the other. He was made professor emeritus in 1994.

From the beginning of his career, Bill was active in library association activities, at the local, state, and national level. In the Special Libraries Association (SLA), he served as the employment chair for its Philadelphia Council (1953-56), was later on its Board of Directors (1964-67), and was a nominee for president in 1971. In the American Library Association (ALA), he served as the Medical Library Association (MLA) representative to the Committee on Bibliography (1957-61), which led to his becoming a regular member of that committee. Other activities included the Reference and Subscription Books Review Committee and the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on National Library Information Systems (1967-70). In 1965, he was president of the Association of Hospital and Institution Libraries (AHIL).

MLA received much of his attention. In 1954, he served on the Nominating Committee of the Philadelphia Chapter and volunteered his service on Vital Notes on Medical Periodicals, of which he became editor the following year. From then until 1976, he gathered material from colleagues worldwide: information on the births, marriages, deaths, and name changes of health sciences journals. …

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