Scope and Content of the Collection
Title: Lily Sováry Papers
Date (inclusive): 1980-1983
Collection number: MSS 83-12
Collection Size: 2 boxes
University of California, San Francisco. Library. Archives and Special Collections.
San Francisco, California 94143-0840
This collection includes materials dealing with Lilly Sováry's life and medical/health problems (Cushing's and Addison's diseases)
Includes correspondence with physicians, art work, photocopied materials.
Physical location: For current information on the location of
these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Received 5/83, 10/83, 1/84, 10/84.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Library & Center for Knowledge Management. All requests for permission to publish
or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Archives & Special Collections. Permission for publication
is given on behalf of the Library & Center for Knowledge Management as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
Lily Sováry Papers, MSS 83-12, Archives & Special
Collections, UCSF Library & CKM
Lilly Sováry was born in Hungary and later became a U.S. citizen. She was a victim
of Cushing's Disease (hyperadrenocorticism secondary to excessive pituitary secretion of
of adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH), for which she was first treated at Stanford
University Hospital in 1965-1966. In 1967 she was transferred to the Metabolic Research
Center at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. She rejected
adrenalectomy, then the customary treatment, but underwent experimental pituitary
irradiation treatments at Stanford (in a 1979 interview with Kristine Bertelsen of UCSF's
Medical Anthropology Department, Sováry stated that there were two series of
irradiation treatments -one in 1966, and a second in 1968). In 1971 she was again
admitted to the Metabolic Research Center at UCSF for experimental hormone treatment, but
she became very ill and this treatment was discontinued.
In order to participate fully in her treatments, she began her own research into her
condition and the treatment options available to her. At the same time, in order to stave
off the prognosis of mental decline considered inherent to the disease, she began
compiling her unusual creative response to her medical experiences. The resulting
materials are a blend of medical documentation, correspondence, collage, poetry,
meditation and unclassifiable creative expression that provide a compelling picture of
the human organism in the face of catastrophic illness. As her treatment progressed, the
author reviewed progressive drafts of her work with clinical professionals at UCSF. In
October of 1973 she presented a series of three lectures titled "Education and
Psychology" at the Langley Porter Clinic under the auspices of the Committee on Art &
Lectures. In 1980 her interviews with Drs. Carroll Brodsky and George Stone were
videotaped and used for the course "Psychosocial Aspects of Medical Care."
By the mid-1970s she had been diagnosed with Addison's Disease (caused by hypofunction of
the adrenal glands), and by the time this collection was accessioned in 1983, her medical
records (excerpted throughout these papers) identified at least eighteen different
Ms. Sováry has characterized her work as "a presentation of the case history of an
individual's struggle with an incurable disease and an unconventional look at the medical
world," and has chosen to deposit this work with UCSF's manuscript collection as a
"'non-academic' work for educational purposes."
Scope and Content of the Collection
This collection includes correspondence with physicians, art work, and photocopied materials dealing with Lilly Sováry's life
and medical/health problems (Cushing's and Addison's diseases)
There is one folder of correspondence and information about this collection and thirteen folders containing Sováry's writings.
The general subject divisions are Sováry's own.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.