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Tracy J. Putnam, M.D. Collection, 1938-1975.
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content
  • Subject Headings
  • Dots of various colors were used to identify patient records with certain afflictions.

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Tracy J. Putnam, M.D. Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1938-1975.
    Manuscript Collection number: 90
    Creator: Tracy Jackson Putnam (1894-1975).
    Extent: 29 boxes (29 linear ft.)
    Repository: Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. History and Special Collections Division
    University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
    Shelf location: Held at SRLF; please contact the History and Special Collections Division of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Source of Acquisition/Provenance

    Patient diagnostic, treatment, and payment records and biographical papers of Tracy J. Putnam were acquired from Ernest J. Penka in March, 1991.


    Access restricted; biographical information from patient records may not be disclosed; researchers must first apply in writing to the History and Special Collections librarian, outlining the research project and clearly presenting the purpose for which the records are to be used.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], Tracy J. Putnam, M.D. collection (Manuscript collection 90). Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, History & Special Collections Division, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 2723003 

    Biographical Sketch

    Tracy J. Putnam was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 14, 1894. Following A.B. (1916) and M.D. (1920) degrees from Harvard University, his training included neurosurgery under Harvey Cushing at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1925-28) and neurology with Stanley Cobb at the Boston City Hospital neurological unit (1929-33).
    Research early in Putnam's career is reflected later in his later patient case files. For example, the surgical treatment of hydrocephalus was attempted at Massachusetts General Hospital (1933-35).
    From 1934-39 Putnam served as Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Neurological Unit at Boston City Hospital. Putnam is probably best remembered for the 1938 article, "Sodium diphenyl hydantoinate in the treatment of convulsive disorders," Journal of the American Medical Association 111 (1938): 1068-1073, in which he and H. Houston Merritt introduced the nonsedative anticonvulsant, diphenyl hydantoin (Dilantin; Parke-Davis). This appeared in a stream of work devoted to examining the clinical and pharmacologic properties of numerous anti-epileptic medications.
    Putnam was director of the services of Neurology and Neurological Surgery at the New York Neurological Institute from 1939-47, and Professor of the same disciplines at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. During this period he was a founding member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (1946) and what later became the National Epilepsy Foundation (1946). In 1947 Putnam moved to Beverly Hills, California, to establish a private practice and consult at and later serve as Chief (1947-1958) of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles.
    Tracy Jackson Putnam died March 29, 1975.

    Scope and Content

    The bulk of the material is in the form of medical records from Putnam's neurological surgery practice, covering the period from 1947 to 1975 when Putnam worked in Beverly Hills, California and consulted at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital there. Records include patient case histories; medical test reports; prescriptions; correspondence with physicians, patients and their relatives, and lawyers; photographs and slides; workman's compensation and disability claims, appeals, and testimony; and billing information and payment claims. Patients originated mostly from Southern California, though there are cases referred from throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and as far away as China and Brazil. The collection documents Putnam's surgical and pharmaceutical treatment of epilepsy; pain; head, neck, back and limb injuries; tumors; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson's disease (aka paralysis agitans); and other disorders typically seen in a neurology practice of the time. The records document the use of phenytoin sodium (Dilantin; Parke-Davis), along with clinical trials of other anticonvulsants such as glutamic acid and Spirodon (Cutter) in the mid and late 1950's. The surgical treatment of several cases of infantile hydrocephalus and meningomyeloceles (aka myelomeningoceles or Spina bifida aperta) in the 1950's is accompanied by pre-and post-operative photographs. Unique cases include one of Ataxia-Telangiectasis (A-T, or cerebellar telangiectasis) in 1953 and a renowned case of "electronic vision" which was performed in 1957, during Putnam's tenure as director of neurosurgery at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. In the latter case, electrodes were implanted in the calcarine fissure of a woman with optic atrophy and connected to a photo cell; this artificial vision device allowed the patient to perceive light flashes.
    The collection also includes biographical material from approximately 1948 to 1969, and offprints, reprints, and photocopies of journal publications from 1919 to 1961. Employer federal unemployment tax returns and related forms for Putnam's medical office staff from 1960 to 1975 round out the collection.

    Subject Headings

    Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Medical Records [MeSH]
    Phenytoin Therapeutic [MeSH]
    Anticonvulsants Therapeutic Use [MeSH]
    Hydrocephalus Surgery [MeSH]
    Meningomyelocele Surgery [MeSH]
    Multiple Sclerosis Drug Therapy [MeSH]
    Parkinson Disease Surgery [MeSH]
    Workers' Compensation California [MeSH]

    Dots of various colors were used to identify patient records with certain afflictions.

    GREEN: multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, posterior lateral sclerosis, combined system disease
    BLUE: epilepsy, convulsive disorders
    RED: lobotomies, thalamotomies (chiefly for pain), psycho-surgery, psychiatric cases
    SILVER: neurosurgery