What’s Your Reference Question?
I received this email late in the day one day in August:
“I wonder if someone could assist with finding a quote by Dr. Henry Plummer? We need this for a presentation ASAP. The quote begins:
“The building is a tool…..” however we don’t know the ending of the quote. Perhaps someone in Rochester would know? Can you help? I searched the E-Online Aphorisms of the Mayo Brothers, but that was not the right path. I’m not quite sure where else to begin. Thanks for your assistance.”
These things I knew: that our print collection in Jacksonville would not yield the answer, and that I could call my colleagues in Rochester and put them on the trail– looking through the archives in the Historical Unit or the History of Medicine Library. But, since there seemed to be some urgency to the request, I turned to my friend Google. In the search box, I keyed in “the building is a tool” “henry plummer”– putting quotes around these phrases tells Google to search for the exact phrase. I got one hit:
In that article, Robert Fontaine, Chair of Campus Planning in Jacksonville, writes: “Some of Dr. Plummer’s quotes are absolute jewels and indicate a remarkable understanding of the built environment and the elements necessary to create an efficient building. His thesis was: “Make the right way the easy way,” He believed the environment must “have a place for everything and make it look permanent as if a Scandinavian housewife had just been through [it].” He also believed
“In connection with the construction of the building, it was pleasing to note his respect for the emotions of mankind and his recognition of the significance of emotional reactions. Never did the white, cold marble of the mausoleum type come into the calculations. Where marble was used, it was the warmly colored marble that would please the eye and quiet the apprehensions. In such understanding and execution of purpose Henry Plummer was perhaps at his best.” (Obviously the Historical Unit has had to answer this question in the past!)