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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Historian Celebrates 250 Years of the Veterinary Profession During the Annual AVMA Meeting.

Posted July 24, 2011
Donald F. Smith, Cornell University

Dr. Fred Born is a Wisconsin veterinarian who is on a mission to research and record some of the important historical records of veterinary medicine. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Fred is a 1962 graduate of Michigan State University who established and was the senior partner in a six-veterinarian mixed animal practice in Fond du Lac (WI), where he concentrated on small animal medicine and surgery. An author of three veterinary textbooks, Fred has received numerous awards including being named the Veterinarian of the Year in 1971 by his state colleagues.

Dr. Fred Born with the display he prepared for the 2011 AVMA meeting.
Photo by the author.

An avid historian, Dr. Born feels that “understanding what has happened in the past gives us an important insight into historical challenges and opportunities as we prepare for the future”. To that end, he developed an exhibit to celebrate this year as the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession. The display was presented at the recent AVMA meeting in St. Louis, Missouri and attracted an enthusiastic gathering of veterinarians interested in the history of the profession. A special feature was an extensive collection of late 18th and 19th century veterinary instruments, many of which are in mint condition

His tribute to the world’s first veterinary college in Lyon, France which was established in 1761 included a series of collectable post cards as well a life-sized image of the college’s founder, Claude Bourgelet.  The focus on the European legacy delighted the French delegation led by Prof Jean-Fran├žois Chary.

Dr. Born (right) with Prof. Jean-Francois Chary (center), leader of the French
delegation at the AVMA meeting. Left is Prof. Dr. Stephane Martinot,
Dean Veterinary School Lyon, France.
Photo by the author.
About 10 years ago, Dr. Born and colleagues interviewed past presidents of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association, including several who had graduated during the Depression. He has concluded that the generation of veterinarians who graduated during the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s has seen unprecedented changes in the profession as well as in societal expectations and life styles.

Under Dr. Born's leadership, members of the American Veterinary Medical History Society are encouraging state associations to promote the collection of interviews with veterinarians who are now in their 80s and 90s, “to record this priceless history for the benefit of the profession and as a legacy of future generations of veterinarians”.

Dr. Fred Born's exhibit to honor the 250th anniversary of the veterinary medical profession.
AVMA meeting, St. Louis, Missouri. Photo courtesy Dr. Born.
Dr. Smith welcomes comments at


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