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Spine and Orthopedic Historical Collections

The Spine and Orthopedic Collections at the University of Kansas Medical Center contain a number of significant collections suitable for study by students and scholars interested in the history of orthopedic surgery in the United States.  The collections include:  The Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) Archives, The Paul R. Harrington, MD, Archives, The Leonard F. Peltier, MD, Archives, The Walter P. Blount, MD, Archives, and the Rex L. Diveley, MD, Archives.  Under separate housing in the Clendening History of Medicine Library are many books that arrived with and are complementary to these collections.

The below collections are now open and available for use by qualified researchers.  For further information or access to the collections contact Alex Welborn, Head Archivist, at 913-588-7243 or

The archives of the Scoliosis Research Society, with headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are housed with the Spine and Orthopedic Historical Collections at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The collection includes:  Annual Meeting Folders 1965 – present, Presidential Cycles,  Board of Directors Meetings, Committee Reports, Members Business Meetings, Annual Meeting Planning, Presidential Address and Harrington Lecturer Notes, Multi-District Pedicle Screw Litigation, Nominating Committee Notes, Committee Files, Alphabetical Subject Files, Videos, Related Meetings and Publications, Presidential Addresses, Harrington Guest Lecturer, Guest Speakers, Orthopedic Bone Screw Products Liability Litigation, Membership Correspondence, Morbidity Report, and Financial Statements.  These materials will be added to periodically.

A large portion of this collection has been digitized.   Access to the SRS Archives will be granted to SRS members or to qualified outside researchers by permission of the president of the SRS Board of Directors or SRS Historian, with the approval of the University of Kansas Medical Center Spine and Orthopedic Historical Collections Archivist, or History and Philosophy of Medicine Chair.

Born January 8, 1920, and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Leonard F. Peltier, MD, PhD, graduated from the University of Nebraska with an A.B. in 1941.   He received his M.D. from the University of Minnesota (UM), in 1944.  After graduation, Peltier served a general surgery internship under Owen H. Wangensteen, MD.   After being commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corps in 1946, Peltier was assigned to the 120th Station Hospital in Bayreuth, Germany, where he served as chief of surgery of a 500 bed hospital.  After his discharge in 1948, Peltier returned to UM where he received his PhD in 1951.  He then spent the next two years at UM doing an orthopedic surgery residency.  At Minnesota he served as a John and Mary R. Markle Scholar in Medical Science from 1952-56.

Peltier was offered, and accepted the position as Professor of Surgery (orthopedics) and Chairman of the Section of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, Kansas, in 1957.  After serving as Head of the Section of Orthopedic Surgery at KU for fifteen years, he moved to Tucson in 1971, and established the orthopedic program at the new College of Medicine of the University of Arizona. There he was the Head of the Section of Orthopedic Surgery for fifteen years and served an additional period as acting head of the Department of Surgery before his retirement in 1990. He died in 2003.

During his lifetime, Dr. Peltier published nearly 200 scientific papers and several books, including

Many of his papers dealt with the history of surgery. He served on the editorial board of, or as a consultant to, several journals, including Surgery, Journal of Trauma, Journal of Surgical Oncology, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. A biography by Lo Vecchio, Reckling and Reckling, “Onward and Upward”: The Career Trajectory and Memories of Leonard F. Peltier, M.D., Ph.D., was published in 2004.

The Leonard F. Peltier Collection includes alphabetical subject files, articles, correspondence, biographies of notable people, artifacts pertaining to the History of Medicine, certificates and awards covering the period from ca. 1945-2000.

Dr. Walter P. Blount, July 3, 1900 to May 16, 1992, was a pioneer in the development of the Milwaukee Brace for treatment of scoliosis and the Blount Staple used in treatment of unequal leg length as an alternative to osteotomy.  He did extensive work on Erlacher-Blount syndrome, also known as Tibia Vara, and was one of the first surgeons to recognize fractures in children as a possible symptom of abuse.

Born into a family of physicians, Dr Blount continued in the tradition, attending the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine followed by Post Graduate work in London and numerous clinics across Europe. After joining the orthopedic practice of Dr. Frederick Gaenslen in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Blount became Chief of the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital.  Upon Dr. Gaenslen’s retirement, he became Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Marquette University School of Medicine and subsequently formed the Blount Orthopedic Clinic in Milwaukee with Dr. Robert Cassidy. He was active in numerous professional organizations from local to international and was frequently called upon to speak.  Fluent in several languages, Dr. Blount also served as a translator for articles to be published in English.  He served as president of the Orthopaedic Clinical Society in 1946, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1955-1956, and as vice president of SICOT, 1963-1966.

The Walter P. Blount collection consists of his published works, articles and books and unpublished lectures, along with the reference material for each work including other author’s publications, statistics, photographs and x-rays, correspondence, and working drafts for each piece. Some are published in several languages, and information regarding the translation is included. Kept in alphabetical subject files, he collected information from other sources on a wide range of maladies such as polio, cerebral palsy and tuberculosis. Also in the collection are patient photographs, x-rays, slides and movies, a collection of photographs and biographies of influential doctors, letters from the Orthopaedic Correspondence Club, professional correspondence, cash books and treatment journals, various memberships and awards, wood cuts, bones, surgical hardware and braces.

An avid traveler and family man, this collection also includes meeting programs, journals, and photographs of his travels, both professional and personal, and family memorabilia consisting of letters, photographs, film, books, and other  family history information and memorabilia.

Born June 17, 1892, Rex Diveley received his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1917.  He served during World War I in the Medical Corps, U.S. Army, from 1917 to 1919, as Ward Surgeon, Base Hospital #28, in Limoges, France.  Base Hospital #28 was a unit formed of physicians and nurses from the Kansas City area.

In 1923, Dr. Diveley, with Frank Dickson, MD, established the renowned Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedic Clinic at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.  Today the clinic maintains a proud heritage and long tradition of providing excellence in patient care, teaching, and clinical research.

Diveley joined the KU School of Medicine faculty as an Assistant in Experimental Medicine from 1928 to 1929.  Other appointments included Providence, St. Luke’s, Kansas City General, and Wheatley-Provident hospitals.  Dr. Diveley was certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery in 1935.  Dickson (1935) and Diveley (1947) both served as presidents of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

During World War II, Diveley served as Chief of Rehabilitation Division, Chief Surgeon’s Office, E.T.O.

He discharged as a Colonel and was awarded the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit.  In 1946, he was appointed Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the KU School of Medicine, and served as Associate Clinical Professor from 1961-1974.   He served as president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1947-48.  Rex Diveley, MD, died on November 24, 1980.

The Diveley Collection contains, in addition to professional papers from his civilian practice, a considerable amount of WWII information including his Wartime Journals, Tour Reports, Military Hospitals, Surgical Consultants History, and North Africa Camp Inspections.  There is a significant photograph collection including images from both World War I and II, and personal photographs.  Other information consists of biographical data and Dr. Diveley’s high school diary.  There is also a short biography of Frank Dickson, MD, Diveley’s partner in the Clinic.

Located separately on the second floor of Robinson Hall, this room preserves and maintains the professional papers of renowned orthopedist Paul R. Harrington, MD., 1911-1980.  Born on September 27, 1911, in Kansas City, Kansas, Harrington was proud of his Kansas public school education, culminating in graduation from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1938.  He followed two years of surgical training with two years of orthopedic residency with Drs. Frank D. Dickson and Rex L. Diveley.  From 1942 to 1945 Harrington was chief of orthopedic surgery at the 77th Evacuation Hospital, serving in North Africa, Sicily and Europe.  Following WWII he and his family moved to Houston, Texas, to set up private practice.  As a result of spiraling numbers of patients due to the post-World War II polio epidemics, Harrington became immersed in the problem of post-polio scoliosis.  He worked with the Baylor College of Medicine and the National Infantile Paralysis Foundation to establish, in 1950, the Southwestern Respiratory Care Center.  This respiratory center was the first of its kind and would serve as a model for future centers in other parts of the country.

In the decade from 1950-1960, Dr. Harrington conceived and designed the spinal implant instruments that bear his name.  His was the first successful spinal instrumentation system, and, with few modifications, remained the most widely used system for about 25 years.  Over the years, Harrington became internationally recognized as an authority on scoliosis.  A founding member of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS), he served as its president from 1972-1973.

Paul R. Harrington, MD, died on November 29, 1980, in Houston, Texas, where he had worked throughout his remarkable career.  Before his death, he requested that his professional papers be permanently preserved at his alma mater.

The Harrington Archives

The first contribution to the Spine and Orthopedic Historical Collections under the auspices of the University of Kansas Medical Center Archives, History and Philosophy of Medicine Department, was the Paul R. Harrington collection. Housed in a small, attractive archives room in the History and Philosophy of Medicine Department, the Harrington Archives contains professional papers, photographs, publications, manuscripts, blueprints, drawings, biographical information, presentations, professional and personal correspondence, movies, videotapes, and numerous examples of the spinal instrumentation that he developed.

For more information regarding the Harrington Archives please contact:

Alex Welborn, Head Archivist 

For an appointment or tour contact:

Douglas C. Burton, M.D.

KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
History and Philosophy of Medicine

Mail Stop 1025
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66160
Tel: 913-588-7098 | Fax: 913-588-7060