Excerpt from A Reference Handbook of the Medical Sciences, Vol. 1: Embracing the Entire Range of Scientific and Practical Medicine and Allied Science; Illustrated by Numerous Chromolithographs and Four Hundred and Ninety-Eight Fine Half-Tone and Wood Engravings
The first edition of the reference handbook was begun in 1884 and was completed in In 1894 it was believed that the work might be brought up to date by the publication of a supple mentary volume, and accordingly such a volume was issued. During the past year the same need for alterations and additions again made itself felt, and the question then 'arose, Shall we issue a second supplementary volume? This question was considered very carefully in all its bearings, and the conclusion was soon reached that the publication of a second supplementary volume would be unwise owing to the fact that every new st scriber to the work would be obliged to purchase the original volumes, in which the proportion of useless text would be constantly increasing with the lapse of time. Accordingly measures were taken with a view to the complete reconstruction of the handbook. The plan of procedure which we adopted was the following: All the articles of the existing nine volumes were collected together in groups, each of which represented a special depart ment of medical knowledge. Each such group of articles was then intrusted to acompetent specialist in that particular branch, with instructions to determine which among these numerous articles were worthy of being republished (with or without revision on the part of the authors), which should be fused together and published under a single title, and which should be discarded altogether. By this process it was hoped and believed that we should learn what portions of the original edition were still valuable, and what therefore might be utilized in the reconstruction of the new. When this preliminary part Of the work had been completed it was found that we could not possibly hope to retain more than one-half of the actual text of the first edition. This discovery illustrates well how many and how great are the changes which have taken place in medical knowledge during the past fifteen years.
After our expert advisers had determined to what extent we could advantageously utilize the material contained in the Older edition, they undertook the further task of furnishing lists of the different topics upon which, if the entire field of medical knowledge were to be covered with some degree of completeness, articles would have to be written. The names of the men who have per formed this double task and who have made it possible for me to bring the rebuilding of this great structure to a successful issue, are mentioned in the accompanying list. To one and all of them I desire to express my grateful thanks, for I recognize fully that without their efficient aid I should not be able to cope successfully with the task Of deciding what shall be the contents of the new series of volumes.
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