Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Abbreviations Used in the Container List
Title: William Frederick Windle Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1898-1986.
Manuscript Collection No: 112
Creator: Windle, William Frederick
Extent: 31.5 linear feet (18 cartons + 2 boxes + 10 film boxes)
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. History and Special Collections Division
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
Shelf location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Source of Acquisition/Provenance
This collection and $1,000 were donated in 1985 to the Neuroscience History Archives of
the Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles by Ella Grace Howell
Windle, Dr. Windle's widow, according to the wishes expressed in his will. The materials
and funds were later transferred to the History and Special Collections Division of the
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, which serves the UCLA health and life sciences
Restrictions on Access
One patient record (Box 4, Folder 7) is closed until 2041 A.D.
Information on permission to reproduce, publish or quote is available from the History
& Special Collections Division of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library,
University of California, Los Angeles.
[Identification of item], William Frederick Windle papers (Manuscript collection 112). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library
History and Special Collections Division, University of California, Los Angeles.
UCLA Catalog Record ID
Photographs and negatives have been individually sleeved in Mylar. Newspaper clippings
have been photocopied onto permanent durable paper. Films are housed in archival boxes,
but should be rewound onto new reels before use.
William Frederick Windle, Ph.D., D.Sc. (1898-1985), born and educated in the U.S.
Midwest, became an eminent neuroscientist working on both coasts and welcomed
internationally. Dr. Windle did his undergraduate studies at Denison University in Ohio.
His plans for a medical career were turned aside after two years in medical school by his
long and fruitful collaboration with Stephen Walter Ranson of the Institute of Neurology,
Northwestern University. That collaboration started in 1921, led to Windle's Ph.D. degree
in anatomy from Northwestern and, some twenty years later, to the directorship of that
same Institute of Neurology.
In 1946 Dr. Windle left Northwestern to become founding chair of the Department of
Anatomy in the new medical school of the University of Washington, from which he moved 17
months later to head the oldest American department of anatomy at the University of
Pennsylvania. After two years of successful research and teaching there he assumed the
position of scientific director of the Baxter Laboratories in Morton Grove, Illinois,
The years from 1954 to 1963 were spent at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases
and Blindness (NINDB), successively as Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroanatomical
Sciences; Assistant Director, NINDB; and Chief, Laboratory of Perinatal Physiology,
NINDB, Bethesda, Maryland and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
After his retirement from the NINDB in 1964, Dr. Windle moved to the New York University
Medical Center as Research Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Director of Research,
Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. Seven years later he retired again and returned to
his midwestern homeland, assuming the position of research professor at Denison
University in Granville, OH. For a number of years Dr. Windle and his wife would escape
the rigors of the Ohio winter by spending that time in Southern California, where Dr.
Windle served as visiting professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Windle died at
his home in Granville in 1985.M
As an assistant professor at Northwestern University Dr. Windle began a series of studies
on the functional and structural changes in the developing central nervous system.
Continuations and outgrowths of these studies defined his research interests for the rest
of his long career. Specifically, experiments on the initiation of respiration in the
fetus, carried out while a visiting scientist at Cambridge University (1935-1936),
started a long-running major program in fetal physiology, with examination of
asphyxia neonatorum and its effect on the central nervous system.
Much of the research carried on by Dr. Windle and many visiting scientists in Puerto Rico
(ca. 1957-1966) followed the neurological and behavioral effects of neonatal asphyxiation
The second major research thread, sparked by a colleague's observation of intraspinal
fiber regeneration after injections of bacterial pyrogens in animals, resulted in many
years' work on spinal cord regeneration. Dr. Windle's enthusiasm for this problem and the
energy he threw into organizing research symposia on the topic did much to raise
awareness of and funding for this clinically important question.
Dr. Windle's research efforts in neonatal asphyxiation and spinal cord regeneration, with
their clinical relevance for cerebral palsy and paralysis, were supported and lauded both
by scientific and lay groups. Among the awards bestowed upon him were the Max Weinstein
Award, United Cerebral Palsy Association, 1957; Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical
Research, 1968; Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease Award, 1971;
William Thomson Wakeman Award, National Paraplegia Foundation, 1972; and Speedy Award,
Paralyzed Veterans of America, 1972.
In addition to his high productivity and influence as a teacher, administrator and
researcher, Dr. Windle also had great influence as an editor and author in neuroscience.
In 1959, as the explosive growth in neuroscience research and knowledge was beginning,
Dr. Windle realized the need for additional outlets for articles in experimental
neuroscience. With his characteristic energy and enthusiasm, he planned and brought to
eminence the journal
Experimental Neurology. As
editor-in-chief for almost twenty years (1959-1975), Dr. Windle did much to ensure this
publication's high quality and importance as a major neuroscience title. He also authored
successful textbooks on fetal physiology and on histology, and edited volumes on the
spinal cord, CNS regeneration, and remembrances of Stephen Walter Ranson.
A fuller biography, curriculum vitae, and bibliography were published in
Experimental Neurology, 90(1), Oct. 1985, following his death.
Scope and Content
The bulk of the collection consists of paper documents, plus approximately 25,000 feet of
motion pictures, over 400 slides, photographs, and a few artifacts. The materials span
the years 1918-1986.
Autobiographical and biographical writings, and other personal papers and photographs
constitute approximately a ninth of the paper materials, and a third of the films.
Editorial papers make up another quarter of the bulk. The rest of the material is related
to Dr. Windle's teaching, research, and public service roles, with good coverage of his
years at the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Blindness, the New York
University Rehabilitation Institute, and Denison University.
The strength of the collection lies in the window it provides on the neuroscience world
as it expanded during the nineteen-fifties, -sixties, and -seventies. Specifically, Dr.
Windle's research on the neurological/behavioral effects of neonatal oxygen deprivation
is documented for many years, as is his work and interest in the question of spinal
neuron regeneration. The papers, films, and photographs also present a valuable picture
of the development, growth and, partially, the decline of the NINDB's Laboratory of
Perinatal Physiology in Puerto Rico, as well as insight into the state of neuroscience
research in Latin America in the 1960s and '70s.
None of the series is comprehensive. There are neurology teaching notes starting with
1931, but the record of the teaching career is very spotty, as is the available
correspondence; the files contain a full correspondence record only for some of the New
York University years. There is good coverage of Dr. Windle's reprints, and the
background materials for some of his books is quite complete. Many of the research films
cover the NINDB years, showing natural and pathological development of rhesus monkeys.
The totality of documents, photographs, and films also gives an excellent overview of Dr.
Windle's interactions with colleagues all over the world.
The material in the
Experimental Neurology series is both
fascinating and frustrating. The effort of finding a publisher and setting up an
editorial board is partially covered. A good deal, but by no means all, of the
communications between editors is available, but there are no examples of marked-up
manuscripts, and editorial action can be deduced only from notes amongst reviewers and
editors and the partial remains of correspondence to and from authors.
The personal papers contain little information by or about the immediate Windle family,
except for Dr. Windle's memoir about his ancestors and a few letters. There are, however,
twenty reels of home movies many of which are focused on family; one or two also include
footage of international meetings and colleagues. Many of the films, as well as some of
the photographs, lack identification of persons, places, and dates; none of the films
were viewed by the processor.
Organization and Arrangement
The manuscript and photo part of the archive was organized by the processor into the
following series: I. Academic & Professional Papers (1922-1985); subdivided by
Windle's institutional affiliations; II.
--Editorial Papers (1958-1978), grouped by types of materials; III.
Personal Information (1898-1986); IV. Miscellaneous Materials (1923-1972). Materials are
arranged chronologically within each series or subseries. Because the collection had been
moved and rehoused several times, little of the original organization remained, but Dr.
Windle's original folder titles and content were retained whenever possible.
The contents of Boxes 1-10 are identified and numbered as "Folders"; Boxes 11 and 12 are
"Items"; Boxes 13-20 are "Films". An overview of series and subseries can be found in the
Table of Contents preceding this section.
Abbreviations Used in the Container List