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Who Was John R. Williams, Sr.?

Portrait of Dr. John Ralston Williams, M.D. Dr. John R. Williams, Sr. was a physician, medical scientist, hobby enthusiast in the arts and sciences, humanitarian, arborist, author and contributor to the civic and cultural betterment of greater Rochester. His life was devoted to scientific research, medical practice, and voluntary efforts to improve the cultural and educational environment of his community.

Dr. Williams served as Chief of Medicine at Highland Hospital for 30 years, during which time the first complete unit for the study of metabolic diseases, chiefly diabetes, was established by him in 1916. He also established at Highland the first clinical laboratory at a private hospital in the country.

He was working in conjunction with the University of Toronto Medical School when Dr. Frederick C. Banting made his discovery of insulin there in 1922. As a result, Dr. Williams became the first physician in this country to use this new treatment for diabetic patients. He was named to the consulting staff of Eli Lilly & Co., the designated manufacturer of commercial insulin.

After undergoing extensive renovation in 1979, the Health Sciences Library was dedicated in memory of Dr. John R. Williams, Sr.

When the Archives of Highland Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. were transferred to Edward G. Miner Library in the summer of 2015, several boxes of material relating to John R. Williams, M.D. were separated from the hospital collection and made a distinct collection. The processing of this collection was completed in December 2015.

The Papers of John Ralston Williams, M.D. includes of reprints of articles authored by Williams (Box 1, Folders 3-15); miscellaneous documents generated in the Division of Medicine at Highland Hospital between 1927 and 1938 (Box 1, Folders 16-22); drafts of histories of the Highland Hospital (and its predecessor the Hahnemann Hospital) written by Williams (Box 1, Folder 24 through Box 2, Folder 7); miscellaneous material pertaining to Frederick G. Banting (Box 2, Folders 8-16); and an interesting selection of correspondence (Boxes 2-4).