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Remembering Dr. F. William Blaisdell

Dr. F. William Blaisdell
Dr. F. William Blaisdell

Dr. F. William Blaisdell, for whom Blaisdell Medical Library is named, died at age 92 this weekend. A renowned trauma surgeon, Dr. Blaisdell contributed extensively to medical research and teaching.

The medical library that serves the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento was named in his honor in recognition of his leadership in the field and his deep commitment to medical education, his patients, and his students and trainees.

Dr. Blaisdell’s research and personal papers, available by request from the UC Davis Library’s Archives and Special Collections, tell the story of his career in which he developed innovations in trauma care that revolutionized the field nationally.

Nicole Capdarest-Arest, head of Blaisdell Medical Library, said, “I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Blaisdell just last month, along with two colleagues. Although we only spent a few hours with him, his formidable intellect, warmth and sense of humor all came through clearly.”

“I was amazed by his breadth of interests and achievements,” she added. “Not only was he a respected leader in his field of trauma surgery, passionate about medical education, beloved by many of his students, and a lifelong Civil War buff, but when we met he was also working on the latest in a series of mystery novels he was self-publishing. He was truly a fountain of knowledge, in medicine, history and so many other domains.”

Civil War Collection

In addition to bearing his name, Blaisdell Medical Library houses a collection on Civil War medicine donated by Dr. Blaisdell. The items include a set of surgical instruments as well as books from that era, which can be viewed by appointment.

According to a story published by Stanford, where Dr. Blaisdell attended medical school, his interest in the Civil War is rooted in family lore:

Blaisdell remembers sitting on his grandfather’s lap when he was 5 years old and being told the story of his great-grandfather, Solon G. Blaisdell, who was in the 12th New Hampshire Regiment, which fought at Cold Harbor in the spring of 1864.

“Son, if it weren’t for this diary, you wouldn’t be here,” Blaisdell’s grandfather said, holding up the diary that was in Solon Blaisdell’s coat pocket when he was shot at Cold Harbor. The bullet pierced the diary, and although the force broke some of Solon’s ribs, the bullet did not strike his heart.

—Stanford Medicine Magazine, 2002

Remembering a leader

The UC Davis Library joins the campus community in mourning the loss of a great medical leader, surgeon and professor, who also shared our library’s love for history, archives and books. We will remember him every time we walk through those doors and look up.

Read more about Dr. Blaisdell’s career and extensive contributions to the field of trauma surgery.

By Fiona Micoleau and Jessica Nusbaum