Habits, words and phrases, keepsakes, and, sometimes, even real estate, are the stuff family legacies are made of. The ubiquity of the phrase “leaving a legacy” hints at the wide acceptance of the concept of passing something on to the next generation.
Even medical schools rely on legacies. Among the several legacy-minded families to whom HMS owes its rich tradition—the Channings, the Shattucks, and the Bigelows, as examples—the Warren family stands out, for it is the one credited with building a foundation and structure upon which the School still relies. From John Warren (1753-1815) to his great-great grandson of the same name (1874-1928), five generations of Warrens handed to future generations of physicians not only medical knowledge, but also a school in which to pass that knowledge along. They also handed down more than 2,000 books, pamphlets, and manuscripts on medicine and surgery, a collection sufficient to start a library. Today, the collections of the Warren Library, a bequest of John Warren, Class of 1900, on his death in 1928, stand as one testament to this family’s dedication to medicine and medical education.