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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c183

Theron G. Randolph papers


The Theron Randolph papers were produced in the course of Randolph's work as an allergy specialist and reflect his work in the development of clinical ecology as well as the environmental and the natural foods movements.


  • Creation: 1909-2006 (inclusive)
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1935-1991


Language of Materials

Papers are in English except for two reprints in Japanese (Box 8).

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. 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 I: Subseries B and C, Series II: Subseries A, B, and C, and Series V. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

The papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to consult Public Services for further information concerning retrieval of material.

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.


38 cubic feet (38 records center cartons and 1 17.25" x 11.5" x 3.25 box)

These records are the product of Theron Randolph's work treating patients with multiple allergic conditions or sensitivities and in developing the field of clinical ecology in co-operation with other interested medical professionals. The papers cover approximately 55 years of Randolph’s work from the early 1930s to the 1990s. Records include correspondence, research notes, reprints and clippings, audio cassette tapes and reels, patient histories, manuscripts and drafts, and a small amount of biographical material about Randolph and his family. Topics include types of allergies, the development of an ecological or holistic theory of allergy, medical treatments and interventions, the creation of an environmental isolation unit, and the history of allergy medicine.

Biographical Note

Theron G. Randolph, (1906-1995), M.D., 1933, University of Michigan Medical School, was an allergy specialist and one of the founders of clinical ecology.

Theron Grant Randolph was born in 1906 in Jerome, Michigan, to Fred Randolph (1867-1937) and Rena (Kempton) Randolph (1877-1968). He worked on his parents' farm as a child and adolescent. He attended high school in North Adams, Michigan, and enrolled at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, in 1925. He did not make the decision to attend medical school until his senior year and had to undertake extra college-level work to prepare for entrance into the medical school program at the University of Michigan. Randolph originally intended to train as a psychiatrist but changed his mind while in medical school, deciding instead on internal medicine. However, when he was diagnosed with probable pulmonary tuberculosis as the after-effect of a high school chest injury, Randolph chose to pursue the study of allergy. He obtained a fellowship under Francis M. Rackemann at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1937. Randolph entered private practice with Theodore Squier in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1939. During his time in Milwaukee, Randolph founded and ran the Allergy Clinic at Milwaukee Children's Hospital for three years. He returned to the University of Michigan medical school as chief of the allergy clinic in 1942.

In the mid-1940s, Randolph moved his practice to Chicago, obtaining staff privileges at the Northwestern University Medical School and Wesley Memorial Hospital. He taught at Northwestern University's medical school and built a substantial private practice. After moving to Chicago, Randolph continued to focus on allergic medicine, developing techniques which diverged from the current diagnostics and treatment of allergies, including creating diagnostics that differed from the widely used IgE response testing technique. He evaluated patients for reactions to common items such as corn, wheat, milk, and egg which were not generally thought to be causes of allergic reaction. He also considered a wide range of environmental and occupational pollutants, including perfumes, cosmetics, engine exhausts, and gas or paint fumes, as more well-known allergens such as plant pollens, milk, and nuts. He developed a style of history-taking which emphasized detail and completeness as well as the importance of the patient's own self-directed observations, sometimes collecting hundreds of pages of data from a single patient. During the 1950s, Randolph began to use the term "clinical ecology" to describe his field of specialty, moving away from the use of "allergy."

In 1949, Randolph provided expert testimony on allergies at the "Bread Hearings" in Washington DC; these hearings were held by the Food and Drug Administration to decide on labelling standards. (He was later invited to give testimony at the "Peanut Butter Hearings" in 1966.)

Randolph's contract with Northwestern was not renewed in 1950 and he gave up teaching and turned to an entirely private practice. In 1953, Randolph secured a hospital staff appointment at the St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Illinois. During this period, Randolph also began to work on the design of an environmental isolation unit, a chemically neutral suite in a hospital or clinic which could be used for elimination testing of allergies. The first of these units was opened in 1956 as the St. Francis Hospital; this unit shifted between hospitals several times before finally closing in 1984 due to problems getting insurance coverage.

After his departure from Northwestern and subsequent loss of grant funding, Randolph was partially supported by funds from the Rockwell M. Kempton Medical Research Foundation (renamed the Human Ecology Research Foundation in 1960). Randolph moved from the St. Francis Hospital to the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago in 1957 and held an additional appointment at the Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, in 1959, where he established the Lutheran Institute for Human Ecology. The Institute still exists as part of Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Illinois. Randolph's appointment at the Lutheran Hospital was terminated in 1967 and he then sought and received staff appointment at Henrotin Hospital in Chicago.

Randolph was a member of numerous professional organizations over the course of his career, including the American College of Allergists, the Chicago Allergy Society, and the American Ophthalmologic and Otolaryngologic Society of Allergy, and was a founding member of the Society for Clinical Ecology in 1965 (now called the American Academy of Environmental Medicine). He was involved in a variety of continuing medical education initiatives for physicians, including the Wyoming Postgraduate Course in Allergy and Immunology which ran between 1956 and 1963. He received the Society for Clinical Ecology's Jonathan Forman award for contributions to the field in 1967 with particular mention of his 1962 publication, Human Ecology and Susceptibility to the Chemical Environment.

Randolph published prolifically throughout his career and was co-author of Food Allergy (1951) with Herbert J. Rinkel and Michael Zeller. In 1987, he published Environmental Medicine--Beginnings and Bibliographies of Clinical Ecology which is partially a history of the field and partially his own autobiography as well as including brief biographical sketches of other prominent allergists including Herbert Rinkel and Arthur F. Coca.

Randolph married Janet Sibley while living in Milwaukee; the couple had three sons, Jonathan, Wardner, and Bruce, and divorced in 1952. Randolph married Janet Mitchell Walker ("Tudy") in 1954 after meeting her as a patient in 1953; the couple had no children. Theron G. Randolph died of pneumonia in Geneva, Illinois, in 1995 at age 89.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Publications and Exhibits, 1935-1995
  2. ___ A. Reprints and Exhibits, 1935-1985
  3. ___ B. Research and Draft Files for Reprints and Exhibits, 1950-1995
  4. ___ C. Research and Draft Files for Other Works, 1944-1991
  5. II. Informational Resources, 1909-2006
  6. ___ A. Individuals, 1939-1991
  7. ___ B. Organizations, 1944-2006
  8. ___ C. Topics, 1909-1989
  9. ___ D. Press and Publicity, 1947-1972
  10. III. Lectures and Speeches, 1956-2001
  11. IV. Licensure and Certificates, 1935-1988
  12. V. Personal Records, 1925-1990

Custodial History

Originally given to Northeastern Ohio Universities in 1996 by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, along with Randolph's personal library. The papers were donated to the Center for the History of Medicine through the efforts of Vilma Kinney, co-coordinator of the Human Ecology Study Group Theron G. Randolph M.D. Library Committee.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. 2003-063. Thomas Atwood, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. 2003 May 7.

Resources on Theron G. Randolph.

  • Randolph, Theron G. Environmental Medicine--Beginnings and Bibliographies of Clinical Ecology. Fort Collins, CO : Clinical Ecology Publications, 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Honor Moody 2006 December; edited by Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook, May 2016.

In 2006, processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine foldered, refoldered, reboxed, re-ordered folders, and created a finding aid. Processing staff discarded duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine. Original folder names were retained when possible; folder titles appearing in brackets were supplied by processor with any exceptions noted. Preservation photocopies were made of any folders with notes located on the folder itself, as well as newsprint and other fragile material.

In 2016, Center staff re-evaluated discarded material and intellectually re-integrated some records, including a large amount of audio-visual material. Audio cassettes were re-housed in archival enclosures; researchers should consult Series III for more information about audio-visual materials. This finding aid was updated in accordance with current Center descriptive practices. Materials confirmed for discard were discarded.

The original folder list was also revised. Some folder titles listed in the finding aid reflect groupings of related files devised by the archivist, and may not match the original folder titles transcribed on the physical folders. Please consult Public Services for further information.



Randolph, Theron G. Papers, 1909-2006 (inclusive), 1935-1991 (bulk): Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Language of description
Processing funded by the Randolph Archival Fund, organized by the Human Ecology Study Group.

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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