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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c397

Augustus A. White papers


The Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive), are the product of White's activities as an orthopedic surgeon, Harvard Medical School faculty member, and author and researcher.


  • 1951-2010 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Papers are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Some restrictions apply (see below).

Access requires advance notice. Contact Public Services for further information.

Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series I. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. Donor-restricted records are restricted until 2022. These restrictions appear in Series I and VI. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

Access to electronic records in this collection (as found in Series III, IV, and VI) is also subject to the above restrictions. Additionally, access is premised on the availability of a computer station, requisite software, and/or the ability of Public Services staff to review and/or print out records of interest in advance of an on-site visit.

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.


43.9 cubic feet ((42 records center cartons, 1 legal size document box, 3 clamshell boxes, and 1 oversized box).)
1.61 Gigabytes (electronic records on network storage)
3 cubic feet (unprocessed papers in 3 records center cartons)
The Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010, are the product of White's activities as an orthopedic surgeon, Harvard Medical School faculty member, and author and researcher. The papers include: records from White's work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as an orthopedic surgeon, Harvard Medical School as a member of the faculty and a teacher of continuing education courses, his tenure as President of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, as well as his work with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and as a trustee and fellow of Brown University; White's professional correspondence, including his involvement with the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society; his medical writings and reminisces of his service in Vietnam; texts of White's speeches and lectures, and related correspondence; records from his outside legal consultations; and clippings, photographs and other personal and biographical records.

The Augustus A. White papers consist of six series: I. Organizational Records, II. Correspondence, III. Writings, IV. Speeches and Lectures, V. Legal Consultations Records, and VI. Personal and Biographical Records.

Papers are entirely in English.

Biographical Note

Augustus A. White (born 1936), B.A., Brown University, 1957, M.D., Stanford University, 1961, Ph.D., Karolinska Institute, 1970, is the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a former Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. White was the first African American to serve in numerous roles and positions, including being the first African American: medical student at Stanford University, Stanford, California; surgical resident at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; professor of medicine at Yale; and department head at a Harvard-affiliated hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

White was born on 4 June 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee to his father, Augustus A. White, Jr., and mother Vivian White. When he was eight, his father, a doctor, died unexpectedly. White and his mother moved in with an aunt and uncle. At thirteen, White left Tennessee to attend Northfield Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, Massachusetts. Upon graduation, White enrolled at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, earning a B.A. in psychology and varsity letters in football and lacrosse. He then attended Stanford University Medical School, serving as Student Body President and graduating in 1961.

After graduating from medical school, White served as: an intern at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan; a general surgery resident at Presbyterian Medical Center, San Francisco, California; and an orthopedic resident at Yale Medical Center. From 1966 to 1968, White served as Captain in the United States Army Medical Corps. From August 1966 to August 1967, he served as a combat surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. During his deployment, he volunteered during his off-duty time at the St. Francis Leprosarium, earning a Bronze Star for this work, as well as for a volunteer mission to help retrieve an injured soldier from a mountainside.

Following his military service, White earned a Ph.D. in biomechanics from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Returning to the United States and to Yale University, White was appointed Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery (1969-1972), Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery (1972-1976), and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery (1977-1978). White was recruited to Beth Israel Hospital in 1978 as Orthpaedic Surgeon-in-Chief, serving in that position until 1991. At Beth Israel, he also served as Chief of the Spine Surgery Division (1991-1992) and Director of the Daniel E. Hogan Spine Fellowship Program (1983-2003). While at Beth Israel, White was Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery (1978-) and Ellen and Melvin Gordon Professor of Medical Education (2001-) at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery (1978-), Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Boston, Massachusetts.

White was a Brown University Alumni Trustee, serving on the Board of Fellows from 1981 to 1992 and as member of the Committee on Medical Education (1991-1996). He was the President and co-founder of the J. Robert Gladden Society, whose mission "is to increase diversity within the orthpaedic profession and promote the highest quality musculoskeletal care for all people." In 1989, White was appointed President of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, though he resigned a few weeks later, before formally taking office, after a dispute with the Board of Regents. In 1996, White served as Chairman of the Diversity Committee of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He authored the textbook The Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine and the book for patients Your Aching Back. Since retiring from surgery in 2001, White has researched and written about issues of diversity and cultural sensitivity in medicine. While studying in Sweden, White met his wife, Anita. They have three children, Alissa, Atina, and Annica.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Organizational Records, 1972-2003
  2. I.A. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Records, 1972-2003
  3. I.A.1. Administrative Records, 1972-2003
  4. I.A.2. Daniel E. Hogan Spine Fellowship Program Records, 1983-2003
  5. I.B. Harvard Medical School Records, 1979-2003
  6. I.C. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Records, 1982-2003
  7. I.D. Brown University Records, 1984-2003
  8. I.E. University of Maryland at Baltimore Records, 1980-1990
  9. II. Correspondence, 1955-2009
  10. III. Writings, 1951-2008
  11. IV. Speeches and Lectures, 1961-2010
  12. V. Legal Consultations Records, 1988-2003
  13. VI. Personal and Biographical Records, 1953-2008

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted to the Center for the History of Medicine by Augustus A. White.
  1. Accession number 2004-024. Augustus A. White. 2003 October 23.
  2. Accession number 2012-119. Augustus A. White. 2012 October 15.

Processing Information

Processed by Bryan Sutherland, 2017 August.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access. Items were removed from three ring binders and, where necessary, photocopied to acid-free paper. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals. All electronic media (as found in Series III, IV, and VI) were imaged using Access Data's FTK and a Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device. Electronic records were then transferred to secure network storage. Electronic files that could be opened were sampled for content, however, researchers should be aware that not every file in the collection could be opened and assessed. Files for which specific software was needed, but not available to staff at the time of processing, were not reviewed. Electronic media that could not be imaged were retained (and are noted in a local inventory), and any media determined to be blank were discarded.
Link to catalog
White, Augustus A. Papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive): Finding Aid.
Bryan Sutherland
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

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

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Boston MA 02115
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