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Charles Donald O'Malley papers, 1847-1983
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charles Donald O'Malley Papers.,
    Date (inclusive): 1847-1983
    Collection number: 56
    Creator: O'Malley, Charles Donald
    Extent: 33 linear ft. (28 cartons)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
    Abstract: The collection contains O'Malley's research materials, documents pertaining to his professional and academic life, correspondence, and some personal items. Included are reproductions, translations and transcriptions of source texts; reprints; illustrations and portraits; notes, bibliographies, catalogs, etc.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division for paging information.

    Administrative Information


    The collection is open for research. Contact the History & Special Collections Division, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA, for information.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Biomedical Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish if the Biomedical Library does not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Charles Donald O'Malley Papers (Manuscript collection 56). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 5006581 

    Acquisition Information

    The bulk of the collection was transferred from Professor O'Malley's office to the Biomedical Library in 1970 after his sudden death. Dr. Frances Keddie, his wife, added more materials over the course of the next few years. Another gift to the Library, of various certificates awarded to O'Malley and of the Spielmann manuscript carbons and correspondence, was made by Andrew and Nina Dabrowa in 1988.

    Processing Information

    Processed by: Pat L. Walter, April, 2004


    Charles Donald O'Malley was often referred to as the leading authority on Renaissance anatomy, especially on the life and work of Andreas Vesalius. But beyond his interest in Vesalius, which dated to before his career officially began, the breadth of subjects in his numerous publications marked him as one of the leading medical historians of his time. He was internationally rewarded with a long list of honorary appointments, awards, prizes, invitational lectureships and offices, and was sincerely mourned in the many obituaries and tributes included in these papers. (Obituary and complete bibliography in: "Medicine in Seventeenth Century England," ed. by Allen G. Debus, Univ. of California Press, 1974. Also see: "Bull. Hist. Med.", 44(5): 477-481, 1970; "Times (London)", April 28, 1970 and many others.)
    C.D. O'Malley was born in Alameda, California (1907). He gained his B. A. at Stanford University in slightly over three years and his M. A. in only three additional quarters. His Ph. D. studies at Stanford were interrupted for a number of years, but the degree was granted in 1945; by 1951 he was a full professor in the Stanford University Department of History. Although his dissertation had nothing to do with medical history, the field drew him through various influences: first, his wife, Frances Keddie, was a research-oriented physician working with John B. de C. M. Saunders, a professor of both anatomy and medical history, who became O'Malley's mentor and early co-author; second, in the interval between his split doctoral studies O'Malley had browsed through the rich materials in San Francisco's Sutro Library and had been especially drawn to various medical topics; and lastly, the character of the early anatomist Vesalius attracted and fascinated him. O'Malley was an excellent Latinist and a graceful and fluent writer in English, and his translations and other publications were well received by scholars.
    After a year as visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles he began his permanent tenure at UCLA in 1960 as Professor of Medical History. He headed the Division, and later the Department, of Medical History until his sudden death in 1970. During those ten years he published a definitive and widely heralded biography of Vesalius, traveled and lectured widely, received many prestigious prizes, held office in the major professional societies in his field, and mentored a remarkable number of graduate and postdoctoral students in medical history. He corresponded widely with many of the major medical historians in Europe and the United States.

    Scope and Content

    The major portion of the collection consists of research materials: several hundred reprints starting at mid-19th century and continuing through the 1960s; reproductions of source texts; translations and transcriptions of source texts; extensive materials used in the preparation of O'Malley's books on Vesalius, Leonardo da Vinci, the brain & spinal cord; and many portraits of historical figures, plus various other illustrations, notes, bibliographies, catalogs, etc.
    O'Malley's professional and academic activities are represented by drafts of some of his lectures and articles and most of his article reprints. Particularly interesting is his extensive correspondence with the major medical historians of the fifties and sixties: figures of a stature such as John F. Fulton, Noël Poynter, Charles Singer and many others. Additional correspondence and documentation illuminates the activities of professional societies such as the History of Science Society and the International Academy of the History of Medicine, especially during the mid- and later sixties.
    The strictly personal portion of the collection is small in size. It contains memorials and tributes and moving letters of condolence to his wife. Many of his professional colleagues were personal friends of the O'Malleys, and friends who were not medical historians are also represented in the correspondence, such as William Ready and Reinhard Timken-Zinkann.
    Related Collections: The History & Special Collections Division of the UCLA Biomedical Library also holds 194 35 mm slides from Dr. O'Malley's files, on a wide variety of medical & scientific personages and topics. This uncataloged collection is available for viewing in the library.
    Abbreviations Used in Container List: Acad.= Academy; bull.=bulletin; CDO'M=Charles Donald O'Malley; cent.=century; FK=Frances Keddie, M.D. (Mrs. O'Malley); hist.=history; IBRO=International Brain Research Organization; int.=international; IUHPS=International Union of the History & Philosophy of Science; ms.=manuscript; NAS=National Academy of Sciences; NIH=National Institutes of Health; NRC=National Research Council; re.=regarding; UCLA=University of California, Los Angeles; univ.=university

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    History of Medicine
    Vesalius, Andreas, 1514-1564
    Fulton, John F. |(John Farquhar)
    Poynter, F. N. L. (Frederick Noël Lawrence)
    O'Malley, Charles Donald