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Guide to the Orrin Sage Wightman Collection
[1895-1945]
 PR 94

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on January 04, 2017
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Orrin Sage Wightman (1873-1965) was born and raised in New York City. He received a B.A. and a M. D. from New York University in 1895 and 1898, respectively. In 1905, Wightman married Purl Parker and they had two children, Julia Parker and Orrin Sage Jr.

Wightman, an internist, practiced medicine in New York City and was active in many medical organizations. He practiced at Gouverneur, City, and New York Polyclinic Hospitals, among others. In 1923 he served as president of the New York County Medical Society and the organization awarded him a gold medal for achievement in 1965. He was president of the Medical Society of the State of New York in 1925. From 1925 to 1934 Wightman was editor in chief of the New York State Journal of Medicine. He also served as chairman of the New York State Medical Grievance Committee. Wightman was an active member in the New York Academy of Medicine as well, founded its medical information bureau in 1928 and received from that organization an award of outstanding service in 1952. He also served as chairman of the board from 1946 until his death.

During World War I, Wightman served as a major in the United States Army Medical Corps, and in 1917 went on an American Red Cross medical mission to Russia. The mission began by boat from Vancouver, B.C. to Japan, and continued by train through China and Mongolia to Russia and finally Romania. Wightman photographed his activities on this trip, and when he returned to the United States he spoke to the press and to many church groups and clubs about his experiences, on behalf of the new Soviet Union and about America's potential relationship to the country. His photographs were available for purchase, but were never officially published. In 1928, Wightman published Diary of an American Physician in the Russian Revolution in 1917, a written account of his trip through Russia

Throughout his life Wightman traveled throughout the United States and Europe, and photographically documented these trips. He built the first seven cameras he owned and continued to be interested in photographic technology. He was a member of the Royal Photographic Society and an honorary member of the Photographic Society of America. In 1955, he published Early Days of Coastal Georgia, photographs of St. Simons Island and surrounding areas in Georgia