The Dittrick Medical History Center is home to many important collections of individual and family collections of papers, photographs, films and other miscellaneous objects. The materials date from early nineteenth century to the present day. The following are overviews of a few of the larger collections.
Lester Adelson Papers
A 1939 graduate of Tufts College Medical School, Dr. Adelson arrived in Cleveland in 1950 to become the Chief Pathologist for Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office and two years later was named the Chief Deputy Coroner. He retained that position, almost continuously, until his retirement in 1987. Dr. Adelson spent 30 years dealing with the tragic result of criminal activity and became sensitive to the need for delicate communication with bereaved families. His outspoken support of gun control and tough child abuse laws brought him national recognition. At the same time, Adelson was Professor of Forensic Pathology for Case Western Reserve University and instructed students in the newly developed Medicine and Law Program.
The Adelson collection is housed in 17 boxes and includes biographical information, correspondence with former colleagues just prior to Adelson’s retirement in 1987, extensive newspaper clipping file that lends context to Adelson’s interest in gun control, child abuse and violence in urban settings. Also included are photographs of Adelson from his college days through his years as Deputy Coroner. Transcripts from various criminal cases for which Adelson served as expert witness.
Special Note: There is no material in this collection related to the Dr. Sam Sheppard Case.
Bunts Family Papers
The extensive Bunts Family Papers were given to the Cleveland Medical Library Association in 1975 by Mrs. Alexander T. Bunts. This collection documents this family’s involvement in the Cleveland medical community and their important accomplishments. Frank E. Bunts graduated from the US. Navel Academy at Annapolis in 1881 and later served in the Spanish American War. He graduated from Western Reserve University Medical School in 1886. A decade later he became professor of principles of surgery at WRU. He became the first president of the Academy of Medicine in Cleveland (1902) and was one of four co-founders of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (1921).
Frank E. Bunts married Harriet Taylor (1888) and they had two children Alexander Taylor Bunts and Clara Louise Bunts. Alexander T. Bunts graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1924 and went on to specialize in neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic. He retired in 1967 at the age of 70.
This collection is housed in 20 boxes and contains family bibles, both personal and professional correspondence, military service records, material including correspondence with 1954 Nobel Prize winner John F. Enders.
Bruno Gebhard Papers
The Gebhard Archives have been divided into six groups including biographical data, professional interests and activities, speeches and articles in german and English text, information about health exhibits in Germany and about the development of the Cleveland Health Museum, an oral history and various newspaper clippings. Housed separately is an extensive photograph collection that documents Gebhard’s career in Germany as well as his work in Cleveland.
On November 13, 1940 the first permanent health museum in the U.S.A. was opened. Why did it happen in Cleveland? According to Dr. Bruno Gebhard first Director of the Cleveland Health Education Museum, there were two reasons: 1) voluntary health agencies were looking for better visual teaching aids, 2) health education minded members of the Academy of Medicine concurred in this interest, but were anxious to give “a more permanent aspect to health education in Cleveland, in establishing a permanent museum where scientifically prepared material of a visual nature might be made available to the public at all times”.
Gebhard’s curatorial duties at the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden prepared him for the supervision of international health exhibits. Fearing the rising shadow of Hitler, Gebhard left Germany in 1937 and joined the New York World’s Fair staff as medical consultant. In 1939 he was appointed the Director of the Cleveland Health Education Museum, from which he retired in 1965.
Otto Glasser Papers
Born and educated in Germany, Otto Glasser immigrated to the United States in 1922. By 1923 he joined the Department of Biophysical Research at theCleveland Clinic and later became its head. In this capacity Glasser carried on research, taught and wrote extensively on the physics of radiology and the life of Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. Glasser’s most important scientific work, the invention of the condenser dosimeter, won worldwide recognition. Developed in collaboration with U.V. Portman and Valentine B. Seitz of the Cleveland Clinic, the
dosimeter measured x-rays and radiation from radioactive substances. It enabled radiologists to calibrate x-ray apparatus and this assured both the safety and the accuracy of their equipment.
The Glasser collection includes materials gathered by Glasser while writing the Roentgen biography, correspondence with colleagues discussing pioneers in radiology; personal correspondence with family, and material generated during the invention of the dosimeter.
Oliver Perry Kimball Papers
At the turn of the century, Cleveland and surrounding areas saw a rise in the number of cases of goiter in both children and adults. Investigations into the etiology of goiter were carried out in 1915 through 1920, demonstrating that the cause was iodine deficiency. Oliver P. Kimball and David Marine conducted what is considered a classic study in 1916 on school girls in Akron, Ohio which showed that iodine administration prevented endemic goiter. In 1976, his son donated Kimball’s papers to the Library. The materials date mainly from the 1930s through the 1950s and include correspondence with individuals and various medical societies regarding the effect of iodized salt in goiter prevention. Secondary materials include reprints by Kimball and other scientists.
Access to museum collections is by appointment only. Please note that the Center does not hold patient records in its collections.
Please contact Jennifer Nieves to make an appointment.
Archivist and Museum Registrar
Jennifer Kane Nieves, M.A.
Phone: (216) 368-3648
Fax: (216) 368-0165