Richard S. Lyman Papers

The Archives is pleased to spotlight our recently reprocessed Richard S. Lyman Papers. Dr. Richard S. Lyman was the founding chairman of Duke’s Department of Psychiatry in 1940, and his long career included widespread international research, projects with the United States Military, and service on the staff of North Carolina’s Highland Hospital. To learn more about Highland Hospital, visit the finding aid to the Highland Hospital Records. Materials in the collection date from 1927 to 1957. Dr. Richard S. Lyman

Dr. Lyman began his medical career with an eye toward international research. Less than a decade after his 1921 graduation from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he began work with Dr. Ivan P. Pavlov in the Department of Physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg, Russia). Then, in 1932, he was appointed as a professor at Peiking Union Medical College in Beijing, China. While there, he was also charged with establishing psychiatry as a new specialty at Peiking Union Medical College and generally leading attempts to organize western-style psychiatric training and treatment in China. Publications related to his research in China are included within this collection.

Shortly after returning to the United States, Dr. Lyman was brought on as a professor of neuropsychiatry at Duke University and became the founding chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, a position he would hold until leaving Duke in 1951. Administrative documents and various correspondence within this collection detail the establishment and early maintenance of this department, as well as Dr. Lyman’s involvement with other Duke projects including the early directorship of Highland Hospital. Dr. Lyman also demonstrated a marked interest in the research into and care of non-white psychiatric patients. His study of and interactions with African-American patients in particular are featured heavily throughout the documents in this collection.

One of the most prominently featured aspects of his career in this collection, however, is his work with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during World War II. His various documented military projects include his psychiatric evaluations of potential soldiers and his involvement in the training of conscientious objectors as psychiatric orderlies at Duke University Medical Center. He continued to perform similar work for the U.S. Veterans Administration until his 1951 departure from Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Lyman’s collection would be of interest to researchers interested in the history of Duke’s Department of Psychiatry and Highland Hospital, the international history of psychiatric care and research, the early development of psychiatric care for non-white patients, and the involvement of Duke in the “conscientious objectors” project during World War II. The collection includes a combination of correspondence, applications, reports, memoranda, projections, schedules, policies, budget records, program information, and general subject files. 

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

This blog post was contributed by Archives Intern McKenzie Long.