In celebration of the 125th Anniversary of Journal of Experimental Medicine, the Markus Library presents a new exhibit that highlights the lives and careers of two first editors of the journal: William H. Welch and Simon Flexner.
JEM was founded in January of 1896 at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by William Welch, the school’s founder and also the first president of the Board of Scientific Directors of The Rockefeller Institute. From its inception, Welch edited the journal by himself—even editing manuscripts while attending baseball games—and he eventually found that it placed too heavy a burden on his time. By March 1902, the editorial burden became too great for Welch, who stopped publishing papers and began stockpiling manuscripts and unanswered correspondence in his office, explaining the conspicuous absence of published papers from 1902 to 1904.
In October 1902, Welch appealed to the board of The Rockefeller Institute to take over the journal. The transfer of ownership and publication responsibilities required the physical transfer of manuscripts from Welch’s office, which fell to the director of The Rockefeller Institute, Simon Flexner, who carried the abandoned manuscripts from Baltimore to New York in a suitcase.
The first issue of JEM published by The Rockefeller Institute appeared in February 1905, with Flexner serving as editor, and the journal has been published regularly since then.