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COLLECTION Identifier: GA 6.20

Walter Bauer papers


The Walter Bauer papers, 1929-1960, document the teaching, research and professional activities of Walter Bauer, Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Medical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital. Bauer's research focused on diseases affecting human bone joints and connective tissue.


  • 1929-1960.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. There are restrictions on access to portions of this collection. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation.. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series II and Subseries C of Series V. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.


3 cubic feet (3 record cartons)

The Walter Bauer Papers, 1929-1960, describe the teaching, research, and professional activities of an academic physician, researcher, and clinician at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. The collection documents WB's career, from his early years as a researcher of rheumatic disease, through his Army war service, to his appointments as Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at HMS, and Chief of Medical Services at MGH in 1951. The bulk of these papers span the late 1930s to 1951. Correspondence with colleagues and funding agencies, copies of writings and lectures, and correspondence and reports about consulting activities illustrate WB's research, although there is little scientific data. Correspondence about efforts to raise money for research to support the Robert W. Lovett Memorial Laboratories for the Study of Crippling Diseases documents medical research fundraising practices before the government became the main source of funding for research.

There is personal and patient information interfiled in Series II, and patient information in one folder in Series V, subseries C; these records are restricted for 80 years.


Walter Bauer (WB) was appointed Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Chief of Medical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in 1951, and specialized in the study and treatment of rheumatic disease. He was born in Crystal Falls, Michigan, in 1898, and received the BA in 1920 and the MD in 1922 from the University of Michigan. After a residency at Long Island College Hospital, WB became Chief Resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1924. In 1926, Bauer was appointed to the faculty of Harvard Medical School as a research fellow. The following year he traveled to England to study liver metabolism with Sir Henry Dale. He returned to MGH to work with Joseph Aub and Fuller Albright as part of the Ward 4 metabolic research staff that discovered that hyperparathyroidism is a condition caused by a tumor in the parathyroid gland. It was in this early stage of his career that WB began to focus on diseases that affect the human bone joints and connective tissue. He directed the Robert W. Lovett Memorial Laboratories for the Study of Crippling Diseases at MGH from 1929 to 1958. WB researched the nature of synovial fluid and discovered how the measurement of changes in the fluid could be used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. WB defined rheumatoid arthritis as a chronic inflammatory disease that affects not only the body’s bones and joints, but the whole body. In the 1940s WB developed the use of hormones from the adrenal and pituitary glands as a treatment for patients suffering from rheumatic disease. He published numerous books and articles on his research.

During World War II Colonel Walter Bauer was Medical Consultant and Director of Medical Activities for the Eighth Service Command. He continued to consult to the Army after the war. In 1955, WB received the Heberden Medal for his research in rheumatic disease, and served as president of the American Association of Physicians in 1959. In 1963, after a long battle with pulmonary disease, WB died at the age of 65.

Series and Subseries Arrangement

  1. Series I. Personal Papers, 1929-1960
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1929-1959
  3. Series III. Harvard Medical School, 1929-1956
  4. Series IV. Massachusetts General Hospital, 1930-1951
  5. ___ Subseries A. Administrative Records, 1930-1951
  6. ___ Subseries B. Robert W. Lovett Memorial Laboratories for the Study of Crippling Diseases, Fundraising Records, 1933-1945
  7. Series V. Research Records, 1938-1953
  8. ___ Subseries A. ACTH Research Records, 1949-1950, n.d.
  9. ___ Subseries B. Conference Records, 1946-1951
  10. ___ Subseries C. Correspondence with Pharmaceutical and Medical Supply Companies, 1932-1953, n.d.
  11. Series VI. Professional Activities, 1935-1951
  12. Series VII. United States Army Service, 1942-1958
  13. Series VIII. Writings and Lectures, 1940-1945, n.d.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Walter Bauer papers were acquired by the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Related Materials

Related records and materials in the Center for the History of Medicine include:

  1. Joseph C. Aub Papers [H MS c169]
  2. Walter Bauer's faculty publications [1.Mh.1927.B]

For more information on related materials, consult the Reference Librarian.

Processing Information

Processed by Donald Mennerich, December 2001.

Processing Note: When surveyed in 2002, part of the collection was in alphabetical order. Original order was retained when possible, and the collection was organized into eight series. Duplicates and items not created by WB were discarded. Items within folders were not reorganized; many were found organized in reverse chronological order.

Bauer, Walter, b. 1898. Papers, 1929-1960: A Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Rare Books and Special Collections.
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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