Tracy J. Putnam, M.D. Collection, 1938-1975.

Processed by Kathy Donahue; machine-readable finding aid created by Caroline Cubé
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library
History & Special Collections Division
12-077 Center for Health Sciences
Box 951798
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
Phone: 310/825-6940
Fax: 310/825-0465
© 1997
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


Biological and Medical Sciences --Biological Sciences --Neuroscience Biological and Medical Sciences --Pharmacology and Pharmacy Geographical (By Place) --California --Los Angeles Area

Register of the Tracy J. Putnam, M.D. Collection, 1938-1975.

Manuscript Collection number: 90

Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library

History & Special Collections Division

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

Contact Information

  • Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library
  • History & Special Collections Division
  • UCLA
  • 12-077 Center for Health Sciences
  • Box 951798
  • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
  • Phone: 310/825-6940
  • Fax: 310/825-0465
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Kathy Donahue and Russell Johnson; Addendum: Provided by Colin Talley (UCSF) 8/14/96
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
Caroline Cubé
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

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

Series Description



Physical Description: (7 folders) .3 cubic ft.

Scope and Content Note

Notes on biographical entries in American Men of Science, 1948 and Who's Who in Psychiatry, 1949. A biographical data form for a 1948 application to the University of California at Los Angeles, presumably to consult at the medical facilities there, and a resume ca. 1949. Several narrative biographical statements from throughout the time Putnam spent in Beverly Hills, including a biographical sketch ca. 1956; a description of the Tracy J. Putnam Foundation, Inc. (ca. 1958), and a letter to Meyer Friedman (1961) detailing Putnam's career in research, invention and administration. A curriculum vitae from about 1958 is accompanied by a chronological bibliography of Putnam's publications, 1919-1961. A Los Angeles Times clipping (5/5/69) describes the awarding of the Dreyfuss Medical Foundation Award to Putnam for the discovery of an anti-epileptic drug.


Arranged chronologically.

II. PUBLICATIONS. 1941-1962.

Physical Description: (44 folders) .6 cubic ft.

Scope and Content Note

Putnam's curriculum vitae listed his 174 publications in chronological order, beginning in 1919. This series contains a nearly-complete set of offprints, reprints, and photocopies of publications #117 to 174, spanning the last two decades of his contribution to the medical literature.


Arranged chronologically.


Physical Description: 23.5 cubic ft.

Scope and Content Note

These records are mostly from Putnam's practice in neurological surgery in Beverly Hills starting in 1947; several cases date from his practice in New York. Each folder contains some or all of the following: patient case history notes, written in Putnam's hand; carbon copies of prescriptions; correspondence and consultations with referring and referred physicians; correspondence with patients and/or their families; record release requests and permissions from clinics and hospitals; electroencephalography (EEG), radiology, neurology, blood, and other medical test reports; payment claims; and life and casualty insurance claims regarding home, industrial and vehicular accidents.
EEG reports and sample brainwave traces corresponding to the delivery of various established and putative anticonvulsants are found predominantly in folders from the 1950's which bear the penciled inscription "drug studies." Correspondence with attorneys and written testimony for workman's compensation and disability claims and appeals are found chiefly during the 1960's. Pre-and post-operative photographs and slides accompany approximately ten cases; documentation of the surgical treatment of infantile hydrocephalus and myelomeningoceles forms the bulk of these photographic records (see Noteworthy Cases, below).


Arranged alphabetically.


Physical Description: 2.7 cubic ft

Scope and Content Note

Index cards (each 5" x 8") contain notes on services, fees, and payments pertaining to individual patients. Records were not matched against those in the Patient Examination and Treatment Records series.


Arranged alphabetically.


Physical Description: (3 folders) .3 cubic ft.

Scope and Content Note

Annual (1960-75) and quarterly (1970-75) federal unemployment tax returns and related forms filed for Putnam's employees.


Arranged chronologically.



I. Biographical Materials. ca. 1948-69

Box 1

Biographical Materials


II. Publications. 1941-62

Box 1

Bibliography, articles 1-39

Box 1

Bibliography, articles 40-81

Box 1

Bibliography, articles 82-116

Box 1

Bibliography, articles 117-174

Box 1

Publications, articles 117-174


III. Patient Examination and Treatment Records. 1938-75

Box 2

A: 168 folders

Box 3

B - Be: 176 folders

Box 4

Bi - Burk: 183 folders

Box 5

Burn - Cl: 184 folders

Box 6

Co - Davidson: 191 folders

Box 7

Davis - Ei: 192 folders

Box 8

El - Fra: 208 folders

Box 9

Fre - Gol: 190 folders

Box 10

Gom - Hal: 200 folders

Box 11

Ham - Hi: 195 folders

Box 12

Ho - Ji: 173 folders

Box 13

Jo - Kl: 197 folders

Box 14

Kn - Let: 198 folders

Box 15

Len - Map: 189 folders

Box 16

Mar - Men: 184 folders

Box 17

Mer - Ne: 203 folders

Box 18

Ni - Pes: 194 folders

Box 19

Pet - Ra: 175 folders

Box 20

Re - Rum: 212 folders

Box 21

Run - Shel: 186 folders

Box 22

Shep - Sk: 190 folders

Box 23

Sl - Thomas: 175 folders

Box 24

Thompson - Walker: 190 folders

Box 25

Wall - Wil: 194 folders

Box 26

Wim - Z: 131 folders


IV. Patient Payment Records. ca. 1938-75

Box 26-28

Patient Payment Records


V. Employer's Federal Unemployment Tax Returns. 1960-75

Box 29

Employer's Federal Unemployment Tax Returns