Tuesday, October 20, 2009

O'Dea Day: three donations in one

Yesterday, James E. O'Dea, M.D., University of Oregon Medical School Class of 1965, brought us a carload of materials for the collections. The haul can be divided into three separate donations, all of great significance.

Accrual to North Pacific Pediatric Society Records, 2009-002
To the NPPS collection originally delivered by Oliver Massengale, MD, O'Dea has now added a portrait photograph of JB Bilderback, MD, and a large composite of photographs of NPPS presidents. We also received a copy of S. Gorham Babson's history of pediatrics, signed by all the authors, program and meeting materials from the Society's 2009 conference, and other miscellaneous ephemera.

Books for the History of Medicine Collection
O'Dea has given us our first copy of the first American edition of Henry Gray's Anatomy: descriptive and surgical (Philadelphia : Blanchard and Lea, 1859), which he purchased for $25 at an estate sale years ago. He also brought Calvin Cutter's First book on analytic anatomy, physiology and hygiene, human and comparative (Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott & co., 1872)--this copy was formerly in the library of the old Friends College (now George Fox) in Newberg, Oregon. Finally, he also donated Wilhelm Henke's Topographische Anatomie des Menschen in Abbildung und Beschreibung (Berlin, Hirschwald, 1878. Erste Halfte, Tafel I-XXXVIII).

Wilbur Nelson Van Zile Papers
Lastly, but oh, so not leastly, Dr. O'Dea delivered the material remains of the estate of Dr. Wilbur Nelson Van Zile, D.D.S., who passed away without heirs in February 2009, aged 104. At the time of his death, no obituary was published. We have managed to quickly glean some information about Van Zile from his papers:

Van Zile was born August 24, 1904, in Paterson, NJ. As a young man, he moved with his family to Pasadena, CA. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and his DDS from the USC College of Dentistry in 1928. From 1928 to 1934, he was in private practice in Pasadena. In 1936, he joined the US Navy, beginning a long and distinguished career as a Navy oral surgeon. He served as chief of the dental service in the USN hospitals in Guam (1939-40), San Diego (1941-42), Corona (1944-49), Oakland (1950-56), and St. Albans (1956-59). During World War II, he was responsible for the administration of all dental affairs in the South Pacific Theater of Operations under Admiral William Halsey, Third Fleet. He achieved the rank of captain in 1950. In that same year, he instituted the Navy's graduate residency program in oral surgery at the USN Hospital in Oakland, CA. He retired from the Navy in 1959.

After retiring, Van Zile began his second career, coming to Oregon to serve as the first chair of oral surgery at the University of Oregon Dental School. He retired as professor emeritus in 1969. During his forty years in dentistry, Van Zile published several papers, developed a widely-used surgical technique for removal of the coronoid process, and patented an instrument for root canal surgery (Patent No. 2436623). Judging by quick peeks at the two carousels filled with personal slides, he was also quite a gardener.

The collection includes: slides, primarily 35mm, in 16 carousels and four boxes; oversize scrapbook of Ruth Van Zile; correspondence, personal, military, and academic, including letters between Wilbur and Ruth during WWII; photographs, including signed photograph of Admiral Nimitz (shown here); certificates and awards; dental equipment and supplies; Navy uniform regalia; research manuscripts and information related to patent application.

Here, truly, is a biography waiting to be written.

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