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On the occasion of the Centennial of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, it is most fitting that the Centennial Committee of the Medical Center reissue this quite marvelous autobiography by Dr. Francis A. Long. A Prairie Doctor of the Eighties is a valuable book, both in the literary and the historical sense. It is thus my pleasure to provide a Preface to a book about a man I knew and admired.

Francis Long was born on February 16, 1859 and grew up near Kreidersville, Pennsylvania. He worked as a common laborer about the coal mines, in car shops and as an accountant in a lumber yard in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. He came west with his family in December 1976 to Moulton, lowa. Following graduation from Normal School, he taught school for two years near Moulton. He studied medicine in an apprenticeship under a physician with whom he boarded while teaching school. ln 1880 he entered the Medical School of the University of Iowa. Following graduation in 1882 he located in Madison, Nebraska, where he began the medical practice he describes so vividly in this book.

A pioneer in early medicine in Nebraska, he was active in local, district, and state medical organizations such as the Madison-Five Counties, the Elkhorn Valley, and the Missouri Valley. In fact, every association with medicine as its dominating interest received his cooperation and active support. He was president of the Nebraska Medical Association in 1906-07. He was the Nebraska delegate to the American Medical Association in Atlantic City in 1907, in Chicago in 1908, and in Los Angeles in 1911. He was the Nebraska delegate to the A. M.A. Council on Medical Education in 1909-10. He became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1915.

His great role, in his latter professional years, was that of medical editor and publisher. A state medical association publication was first proposed by Francis A. Long in his presidential address before the State Association in 1907. He made a study of sixteen medical publications then in circulation. Nothing further was done until 1913 when Dr. Long was made chairman of a committee to investigate the contract with the then-existing journal. He was empowered to establish a state medical association journal in 1916.

Under Dr. Long's editorial direction, from 1920 to his death in 1937, the Nebraska State Medical Journal flourished both as a medium for excellent scientific papers and as a common visible bond that united the urban physician of Nebraska with his counterpart practicing in the far-flung towns of western Nebraska. For those of us who knew Dr. Long personally, we found that he was always fair and supportive in his editorial comments and judgments. He was soft spoken and a perfectionist in his craft.

Dr. Long carried on a large practice even while his editorial labors took a great deal of his time. Eventually, his health made it necessary for him to retire from medical practice to devote full-time to the editorship of the Journal and to the duties required for the supervision of organized medicine on both state and national fronts. He felt that the Nebraska State Medical Journal was perhaps the most cohesive thing in the state's medical organization, and its influence should be widened by catering to the human side of all physicians of the state. He felt that the physician is, first of all, a scientific personage; but he is also a human being with tastes for the lighter things pertaining to his professional life. He felt the esprit de corps of the profession must be nurtured. To him this implied that sympathy, devotion, enthusiasm and a zealous honor of the body as a whole should be preserved at all times. He also believed that frank discussion in open forum of the problems of the profession was vital to its progress.

For those of us that were privileged to know this unusual man during our formative years, he was a figure of great stature. He was indeed a physician of multifaceted disciplines. First and foremost, he was industrious, imaginative, honest, and forthright in his thinking and the execution of his many offices. As physicians or as citizens, we should be proud of this pioneer of the medical profession in Nebraska, and pleased that this excellent book is here available to us again.

Harley Anderson, M.D.

University of Nebraska

College of Medicine, Class of 1925

Omaha, Nebraska, June, 1980

Publication Date



Huse Publishing Company


Norfolk, Nebraska


History | Medical Education


Huse Publishing Company, the parent company of the Norfolk Daily News, first published A Prairie Doctor of the Eighties in 1937. The Centennial Committee of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine would like to thank Mr. Emil Reutzel, current editor of the Norfolk Dally News, and the Huse Publishing Company for granting permission to reissue this book.

A Prairie Doctor of the Eighties: Some Personal Recollections and Some Early Medical and Social History of a Prairie State