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George H. Bunch Medical History Collection

The George H. Bunch Medical History Collection was given to Thomas Cooper Library in 2000 by George H. Bunch III with the support of the Bunch family and encouragement from David Rembert, Professor Emeritus of Biology.

This collection greatly strengthens the Library’s holdings on medical history, providing a glimpse into the reading interests of an esteemed local physician and surgeon practicing during the first half of the twentieth century.

The collection was developed by Dr. George H. Bunch, grandfather of the donor. Dr. Bunch, a native South Carolinian, was a prominent Columbia physician and surgeon from a family with a deep commitment to improvements in public health. He was an 1899 graduate of South Carolina College and went on to complete his medical degree at the University of Michigan in 1903. After finishing his internship in Calumet, Michigan, he returned to Columbia to begin a general medical practice before specializing in surgery. Dr. Bunch served as Chief of Staff of the Baptist Hospital and was a consulting surgeon to the Southern Railway and the tuberculosis sanatorium at State Park. Dr. Bunch was the first president of the South Carolina Surgical Society and president of both the Columbia Medical Club and the Tri-State Medical Association. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Board of Surgery. A well-respected senior member of the medical community, Dr. Bunch died suddenly while attending a staff meeting of the Columbia Hospital on March 6, 1950. Throughout his career he was committed to providing quality care to all patients in an era when physicians could expect to travel in the middle of the night for house calls, graciously accepting whatever payment was possible. His commitment to medicine was passed on to his son, George H. Bunch, Jr., who joined the practice in 1946, and his grandson, Robert Bunch, who is a practicing surgeon in Columbia today.

The Bunch collection broadly covers the history of modern medicine, in particular those areas closely related to Dr. Bunch’s practice, namely surgery, internal medicine, and pathology. The Collection includes notable early titles, such as John Hunter’s Treatise on the Blood, Inflammation and Gun-shot Wounds(Philadelphia: Thomas Bradford, 1796) and Charles Bell’s A System of Operative Surgery Founded on the Basis of Anatomy (Hartford: George Goodwin and Sons, 1816), as well as biographies of famous physicians and surgeons, such as Benjamin Rush and Lord Lister, and histories of medical schools and hospitals. Among the works contemporary to his years of practice are Dr. Bunch’s student copy of Gray’s Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical (with an ownership inscription from his first year in Ann Arbor), William Osler’s Modern Medicine, and various accounts of research on infectious diseases from the early 20th century. In addition there are works in the Collection on tropical and infectious diseases related to South Carolina, such as Chalmer’s An Account of the Weather and Diseases of South Carolina(London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1776), Benjamin Rush’s An account of the Bilious Remitting Yellow Fever (Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1793) and St. Julian Ravenel Childs’ Malaria and Colonization in the Carolina Low Country, 1526-1696 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1940). The Collection also includes a number of works on gunshot wounds and military surgery published after various wars from the American Revolution through the first World War or from John Hunter’s Treatise on Blood, Inflammation and Gun-shot Wounds (Philadelphia: Thomas Bradford, 1796) through Lieutenant Joseph A. Blake’s Fractures: Being a Monograph on “Gunshot Fractures of the Extremities" (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1919). It is noteworthy that a number of 19th century books on the developing fields of gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics by Charles Meigs, Alfred Velpeau, J. Marion Sims, and John Fraser are also represented in the Collection.

The war books in the Bunch Collection form an excellent complement to both the Francis A. Lord Civil War Collection and Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection, and the Collection also relates well to our growing research interest in 19th century social and women’s history.

Items from this collection were exhibited in Fall 2000 during a conference on Victorian illness and also at a reception for pre-professional undergraduates.

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