Thursday, January 21, 2010

A modest proposal

Looking through the Biographical File for Noble Wiley Jones, M.D., we came across several misfiled items, including copies of two letters by John C. Brougher, M.D., and one letter from E.G. Chuinard, M.D., to Librarian Bertha Hallam conveying the Brougher correspondence and a request to contact Brougher directly.

In the letters, Brougher outlines a proposal to place some sort of commemorative marker on the campus of Willamette University that would celebrate the history of the school's Medical Department. Inspired by a trip to campus made on the occasion of his 45th class reunion, Brougher wrote a letter in June of 1968 to solicit funds for the memorial. Typed on the letterhead of the Vancouver Clinic (of which he was a founding member), we suppose that it was sent out to the state's physicians en masse--most of whom were in some way connected with Willamette or the University of Oregon Medical School, with which WUMD merged in 1913. (Brougher was himself a 1928 graduate of UOMS.)

He writes: "I do hope that we can be successful in getting a proper attractive marker on Willamette's campus, perhaps near the Music Building [formerly the medical department] with correct and appropriate information on the historical significance of our alma mater in the development of medical teaching in the Oregon country."

A second letter, handwritten to E.G. "Frenchy" Chuinard in late September of 1968, shows Brougher's disappointment and frustration in the meager response he received to his proposal. He asks Chuinard whether "the Ore. State Med. Society with its interest in history might take on such a project?" Chuinard sent this request in turn to Bertha Hallam who, with her fingers on the pulse of the medical community and her own strong interest in medical history, was perhaps well placed to assist Brougher.

The building, now known as Art Building, still stands on campus, but we aren't aware of any plaque or other physical memorial to the medical department (any Willamette folk out there able to let us know?). In lieu, perhaps, Brougher might accept the Wikipedia article...

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