Department of Neurosurgery: The Collection, Part 1

This is the first blog post in a four part series about Duke’s Department of Neurosurgery and issues archivists confront when accessioning collections. Select the following links to see Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.Department of Neurosurgery

This summer, this Archives acquired materials from the Department of Neurosurgery, which was first formed as a division under the Department of Surgery in 1937. Prior to the creation of the Neurosurgery division, Dr. Deryl Hart and Dr. Clarence E. Gardner Jr. conducted neurosurgical procedures as part of general surgery. Division Chairs are listed below:

  • Dr. Barnes Woodhall (1937 to 1960)
  • Dr. Guy Odom (1960 to 1976)
  • Dr. Robert H. Wilkins (1976-1996)
  • Dr. Allan H. Friedman (1994-2014)
  • Dr. John H. Sampson (2014-2015)

In 2015, Neurosurgery became a department within Duke Medical Center. Dr. John H. Sampson is the Department Chair.

Today, the Department of Neurosurgery maintains a clinical practice at Duke's three hospitals (Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital, and Duke Raleigh Hospital), as well as providing neurosurgical care at the Durham VA Hospital. Along with a clinical practice, the department also offers a comprehensive residency training program with fellowships offered in six sub-specialty areas. The collection contains materials pertaining to Dr. Guy Odom and Dr. Blaine Nashold’s clinical practice and includes patient files, 16mm films documenting various conditions and procedures, and a Riechert-Mundinger cerebral stereotaxy frame and related surgical components. This new collection will help contribute to research on early neurosurgery practices at Duke. Currently, this collection is comprised of a single accession.

Accession is defined by the SAA as materials physically and legally transferred to a repository as a unit at a single time; an acquisition. The items within this accession were stored in non-temperature controlled storage for 20 years before being recalled to the Department of Neurosurgery. The types of archival materials contained in this accession, as well as the environmental conditions of off-site storage bring up many issues. Some immediately pressing matters with this accession have to do with vinegar syndrome and film, the type of detective work it takes to track down an unidentified medical artifact, and how to reconcile HIPAA with access needs. These topics will be explored in three future blog posts over the next few weeks.

To learn more about these materials, visit the finding aid or contact the archives staff.

This blog post was contributed by Archives Intern Kahlee Leingang and Technical Services Head Lucy Waldrop.