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M. Allen Starr


Centurion, 1892–1932

Full Name Moses Allen Starr

Born 16 May 1854 in New York (Brooklyn), New York

Died 4 September 1932 in Marienbad, Czechoslovakia

Proposed by Francis P. Kinnicutt and Henry van Dyke

Elected 7 May 1892 at age thirty-seven

Century Memorial

We are apt to think of distinguished surgeons as men who had been predestined to their calling. A young man on the threshold of professional life will often hesitate between the law and trade, between the ministry and education. But an ambitious college graduate, divided in mind between taking the chair of ancient history and practicing surgery, is certainly unusual. This was the story of Moses Allen Starr. Even when he was supplementing his collegiate training with a course at European universities, he divided his time between lectures by Mommsen on Roman history on the one hand and by Helmholz and Wundt on physics and brain physiology on the other. After a year of this, the study of the brain’s physiological relationship to the human organism beckoned him irresistibly. It was only then that he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The extraordinarily brilliant surgical career which followed is known to every one. From contact as a graduate student with the most celebrated European neurologists, he came in due course to overtop his teachers. Alike as investigator of brain diseases and as operating surgeon in that field, Starr rose speedily to the forefront of his profession. Dr. Peterson has reminded us that, whereas in 1893 only fifty successful operations for removing tumor of the brain were known to the profession, the work of Starr and his fellow-specialists had brought the record up to 10,000 cases in the present year. In the class-room, Starr was master of his subject; tempering personal enthusiasm over this fascinating study with orderly and illuminating power of exposition. In social life he impressed whoever met him with his many-sided human interest. Perhaps his early alternation, in choosing his lifework, between classic culture and surgical research, helped to shape the interesting personality of later life.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1933 Century Association Yearbook