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Register of the Leo Eloesser papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Leo Eloesser papers
    Date (inclusive): 1861-1994
    Collection Number: 2003C44
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 43 manuscript boxes, 2 card file boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 7 motion picture film reels, 5 paintings, memorabilia (30.5 linear feet)
    Abstract: Memoirs and other writings, correspondence, reports, clippings, other printed matter, photographs, motion picture film, memorabilia, and miscellany, relating to international medical aid to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, international medical aid to China during the Sino-Japanese War and Chinese Civil War, and medical practice in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere. Includes some papers of Joyce Campbell, companion of Leo Eloesser.
    Physical location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Eloesser, Leo.


    Collection is open for research. The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.
    One amateur painting, China, undated, restricted due to extremely fragile condition.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Leo Eloesser papers, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2003.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    1918 Works as a U.S. Army surgeon at Letterman Hospital, San Francisco
    1919 Returns to City and County Hospital of San Francisco
    1920s Studies advanced medicine in Germany and Austria
    1935 Visits Japan and the Soviet Union
    1937-1938 Works as a medical volunteer on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War
    1943-1945 Travels in Latin America, giving lectures and attending conferences in Argentine, Chile, and Cuba
    1945-1949 Works as a doctor in China for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), training medical personnel
    1950s Meets Joyce Campbell, and moves with her to Mexico, establishing a ranch near Tacámbaro, Michoacán
    1950s-1960s Travels extensively and is involved in the promotion of rural health care programs in underdeveloped countries. Writes and lectures on the treatment of tuberculosis
    1955 Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, a training manual for rural midwives
    1973 Visits the People's Republic of China and meets with medical colleagues
    1976 Dies
    2004 Joyce Campbell dies

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Leo Eloesser papers in the Hoover Institution Archives document the life and work of a medical pioneer with strong ties to both Stanford and San Francisco, and of a man who also gained recognition for his humanitarian efforts around the world. Additionally, the papers contain substantial materials relating to the life of Eloesser's companion, Joyce Campbell, and to Eloesser and Campbell's years together in Mexico.
    Leo Eloesser trained as a physician specializing in thoracic surgery in both the United States and Europe, and gained experience in the treatment of war casualties during World War I. He later became a prominent expert in the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis. Eloesser published many writings on a wide variety of medical subjects, and these can be found in the Speeches and Writings series of the papers.
    In 1937, Eloesser volunteered his services as a doctor on behalf of Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, and he was present on the Teruel front during heavy fighting there in 1938. While in Spain, Eloesser wrote several articles for American publications describing his experiences, and these and other related documents are contained in the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy the papers.
    Following World War II, Eloesser became involved in medical relief work conducted in China by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and, subsequently, the United Nations Children's Fund. In the midst of the civil war between Communist and Nationalist forces, Eloesser instructed medical personnel in first aid, midwifery, and general health care. Eloesser's correspondence and reports from this period, along with instructional materials used in his training courses, can be found in the UNRRA/UNICEF file in the papers.
    From his work in China, Eloesser became interested in devising basic medical programs to help the rural poor in underdeveloped countries. He published a textbook for rural midwives in 1955, and throughout the 1950s and 1960s was active in the fight against tuberculosis in Latin Americirca
    Eloesser spent the latter part of his life on a ranch in Mexico, which he ran with Joyce Campbell. This period is extensively documented in the Correspondence series, especially in Eloesser's many letters to Campbell. Joyce Campbell's life is recorded in the Joyce Campbell Series, which includes her correspondence with Eloesser and many other individuals.
    The papers contain an extensive Photographs series, with numerous prints dating from Eloesser's time in China, and others dating from his many working visits to countries besides China. These prints often depict Eloesser in the company of his medical peers.
    Among Eloesser's friends were prominent artists, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and the American sculptor Ralph Stackpole. In the Photographs series of the papers there are numerous prints depicting Diego Rivera murals, and there are clippings about Rivera's life in the Subject File of the papers. The Subject File also contains important materials relating to the case of Tom Mooney, a political cause célèbre of the American left before World War II. These materials include the autopsy report on Mooney prepared by Eloesser.
    On his many travels, Eloesser collected examples of local art and literature, and there are important works of art from Latin America and China in the papers. The Printed Matter series includes a collection of Brazilian chapbooks with woodcut illustrations; the Oversize Materials series contains numerous Chinese art works and several important paintings from Latin American artists.


    The collection is organized into fourteen series: Biographical File, Correspondence, Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy File, UNRRA/UNICEF File, Joyce Campbell Series, Subject File, Photographs, Motion Pictures, Art Works, Printed Matter, and Oversize Materials.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Campbell, Joyce.
    China--History--Civil War, 1945-1949.
    Medical assistance--China.
    Medical assistance--Spain.
    Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945.
    Spain--History--Civil War, 1936-1939.