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Collection Guide
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Register of the Tracy J. Putnam, M.D. Collection, 1938-1975.
90  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
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.
Background
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).
Availability
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.