Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Donation: Harry J. Sears Papers

Yesterday, we received from the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology a fantastic collection of materials from Harry J. Sears, Ph.D., first Chair of Bacteriology at the University of Oregon Medical School and the first bacteriologist in the state of Oregon.

In 1916, Sears came to Oregon from California, where he had been director of the Berkeley City Health Laboratory. Originally from Missouri, he received his training at Stanford, obtaining a B.A. (1911), M.A. (1912), and Ph.D. (1916). He served as Chair of the Dept. of Bacteriology at UOMS from 1918 until his retirement in 1956. He died in 1962 at the age of 77.

The collection is primarily correspondence: letters from prospective students (Sears was head of the Admissions Committee for many years); letters to and from former students (he served as mentor to many who trained here); letters to and from bacteriologists in the state and across the world (one 1936 letter is from Kuala Lumpur, which is pretty cool); letters to and from city leaders about public health matters (including correspondence with Saidie Orr Dunbar); and letters to and from his colleagues at the Medical School, detailing a variety of topics from the mundane to the substantial.

Included, for example, is this letter from Dean Richard Dillehunt laying down what must have been among the first university rules for projects with pharmaceutical companies and conflict of interest (1940):


and this letter from Sears to Dr. J.F. Conway discussing the premedical education of students in 1936:


Related collections currently held by HC&A include the Harry J. Sears Papers (2005-005) and the Harry J. Sears Glass Lantern Slide Collection (2006-011). The former, which is presently unprocessed, includes a draft of the original petition to the Board of Regents to establish the University of Oregon Medical School (1887) and a letter from Harry Cliff, M.D., documenting the creation of the first residencies in medicine, surgery, and obstetrics at the UOMS (1927).

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