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Introduction:  The following is part of a tribute to Dr. Joseph Brenneman delivered by Dr. Richard Louis Nachman, M.D. in 1995 on the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Pediatric Society.  The credentials of Dr. Nachman are available at the Putnam County Historical Society as well as the complete text of his presentation.


Dr. Nachman stated that during his service to the Children’s Memorial Hospital, Dr. Brennemann was unpaid most of the time and only paid a very small salary during his final years in Chicago.   He financed what is now the Brenneman Library without assistance from the hospital board.  How did he manage all he accomplished without an income?  It is believed the Brennemann families in LaSalle and Putnam County supported him during his years in Chicago and provided the funds to establish the library that now carries his name.



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aricebu1  Brennemann School House

aricebu1  University of Michigan – Ph.B. 1895

aricebu1  Northwestern University Meidcal School = M.D. 1900

aricebu1  St. Luke’s Hospital, Chicago – Internship

aricebu1  Studied in Europe


Work Experience


aricebu1  General Practice – 3 years

aricebu1  Pediatric practice in Chicago

aricebu1  Teaching iat Northwestern University Medical School

aricebu1  Attending pediatrician at Cook County Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Wesley Hospital


Major Positions


aricebu1  Professor and chairman, Dept of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Medical School

aricebu1  Chief of Staff, Children’s Memorial Hospital: 1921 – 1941

aricebu1  Professor of Pediatrics, University of Chicago

aricebu1  Chairman of Pediatrics, University of Southern California Children’s Hospital




aricebu1  American Pediatric Society – President

aricebu1  American Academy of Pediatrics

aricebu1  Society of Pediatric Research

aricebu1  British Pediatric Society


His Roots - “Nature via Nurture” (Matt Ridley, 2003)


aricebu1  Rural – Joseph Brenneman was born to Mennonite parents in 1872. 

aricebu1  He was in the right place at the right time.


Contributions – Prophetic Vision


aricebu1  Work Ethic – Focus and Energy, Much to do, Holistic View

aricebu1  Human side of the hospital – “One of the greatest and busiest surgeons that I ever knew spent just as much time and was just as careful not to cause any unnecessary pain during a dressing on the humblest colored child in the ward as he was with the richest and most influential patient in the most expensive suite in the hospital, and we young interns and nurses never forgot it.” (JAMA, Nov. 1931)

aricebu1  Science & Common Sense – a Function of Observation and Relationships

aricebu1  Prophetic Vision  - “A children’s hospital is a sanctuary consecrated to the healing of the sick and dedicated to the training of men and women in the art of medicine.  Its staff should have a keen sympathy and a genuine love of the work and for the human souls who occupy the sick beds.”

1.      Hospital Construction – Outpatient and Inpatient

2.      The Library

3.      Endless & diverse bibliography

4.      Teacher

5.      The Practice of Pediatrics (5 volumes –First edition, 1936)


Views on Behavioral Issues in Medicine


aricebu1  A team effort to establish an understanding and management strategies

aricebu1  Not against psychiatry – only against deficient and fraudulent psychiatry

aricebu1  The need to understand patients well


What makes a visionary


aricebu1  Devotion to the understanding of people in health and in illness

aricebu1  An unflagging desire to heal by providing enlightened, loving, early interventional care

aricebu1  Loving what you do and imbuing work places with deep enlightened caring

aricebu1  Traveling “the road less traveled”

      Quote from Brennemann’s speech at the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society, April 11, 1932

“It is no longer safe to let a young child, who is normally as outdoor an animal as a collie, play outdoors without constant surveillance…The streets are no longer safe and mothers are apt to be hypercritical about his chosen companions.”


Final Tribute To Brennemann


“So spoke an honest man; the outstanding intuitionist of our age and a prime example of what may lie in store for anyone who dares to follow the beat of a different drum.”  (Obituary of Richard Feynman by Nobel Laureate Julian Schwinger, Feb. 1989)


            “Good-bye Dr. Brennemann. Knowing you, but briefly, helps us to understand ourselves better. 

            Thanks for your devotion and gifts.  Your jumpstart worked.” 


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