Barnes Woodhall Papers, 1930-1987

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Woodhall, Barnes
Contains the personal and professional papers of Barnes Woodhall (1905-1985), professor and chair of the Division of Neurological Surgery and dean of the School of Medicine at Duke University. Types of materials include correspondence, subject files, minutes, reports, memoranda, memorabilia, short writings, reprints, and photographs. Major subjects include Duke University Medical Center, Duke University School of Medicine, health services administration, Veteran's Administration, North Carolina Atomic Energy Commission, Health Planning Council for Central North Carolina, Journal of Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center Library, National Library of Medicine and MEDLARS, National Institutes of Health, hospital design and construction, and Research Triangle Institute. Major correspondents include Everett Hopkins, R. Taylor Cole, and Douglas M. Knight. Materials range in date from 1930 to 1987.
33 Linear Feet (22 cartons)
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Contains correspondence, brochures, speeches, minutes, clippings, reports, programs, notes, photographs pertaining to the career of Barnes Woodhall. Materials largely pertain to the development of curriculum, regulation, and continuing education of surgeons. Major subjects in this series include Association of American Medical Colleges, Veterans Administration Committee, building, development, and expansion, the Cushing Society, Fallout Preparedness Committee, Health Planning Council for North Carolina, Journal of Neurosurgery, the Medical Center Library, long range planning, North Carolina Atomic Energy Advisory Committee, Research Triangle Institute, and the Veteran's Administration hospitals. Major correspondents include , R. Taylor Cole (provost), Everett Hopkins of the Office of Institutional Advancement, and Douglas M. Knight (president).Materials range in date from 1930 to 1987.

Biographical / historical:

On January 22, 1905, Barnes Woodhall was born in Rockport, Maine to Charles Henry and Florence (Barnes) Woodhall. Charles Henry was one of the original executives of the Boys' Club of America. Woodhall received his AB degree from Williams College in 1926. While a student, Woodhall spent summer working in the New York office of AA&T and seemed headed toward a career as a stockbroker, but during his senior year, he was influenced by a biology teacher and became interested in medicine.
Woodhall attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University and received his MD degree in 1930. During part-time work as a medical student at Hopkins, he became interested in ophthalmology. From 1930 to 1937, he worked as an intern, resident, and instructor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. During his internship and surgical residency, Woodhall turned his interests to neurosurgery, completing several rotations with Dr. Water Dandy in neurosurgical techniques. Woodhall began his teaching career at Duke University in September 1937, when he was appointed to the School of Medicine faculty as an assistant professor with the responsibility for organizing the neurosurgical service. He served as assistant professor from 1937 to 1946.
In 1942, Woodhall joined the military and served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Medical Corps (1942-1946), where he developed the Army's first neurological service; served at Ashford General Hospital in West Virginia; Chief of Neurosurgery at Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, D.C. (1942-1946); and a member of Army Reserve Corps (1940-1949). In 1946, he received the Legion of Merit award for his work dealing with injuries to nerve trunks.
Woodhall served as professor (1937-1960) and chief (1946-1960) of the Division of Neurological Surgery at Duke. In the 1950s, Woodhall was one of the first to use chemotherapy for brain tumors. His other research interests included brain energetics. On July 1, 1960, he became the dean of the School of Medicine. Woodhall was also the assistant provost of Duke University from 1960 to 1961. In 1962, he became vice provost and assumed responsibility for the Medical Center. On June 30, 1964 he relinquished his deanship to become the Vice Provost of the University. He then became an associate provost of Duke University and served July 1, 1967 to 1969. On January 15, 1969 he was appointed special assistant to the president and briefly served as chancellor from March 1969 to 1970. Woodhall was named James B. Duke Professor of Neurosurgery in March 1969.
Woodhall acted as an advisor to many organizations. He served as a neurosurgical consultant to the United States Surgeon General's Office, chief consultant council to the Veteran's Administration, and a member of a special medical advisory group for the Veteran's Administration. He also advised the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and State Board of Mental Health.
Woodhall's many publications include three monographs on peripheral nerve surgery, neuropathology, and regeneration, including "Peripheral Nerve Diagnosis" with Dr. William Lyons, written during his Army years. He was the co-editor and contributor to "History of Neurosurgery in World War II", which was published under the direction of the United States Army Surgeon General. He wrote over 150 papers during his career, many of which are considered classic in the field. Woodhall also served as a member of the editorial board (1958) and chair (1963) of the Journal of Neurosurgery.
Throughout his career, Woodhall served as a member and officer in various neurological and neurosurgical societies: American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, International Society of Surgery, World Federation of Neurological Surgery (executive council, 1960), American Surgical Association, Southern Surgical Association, Harvey Cushing Society (president, 1964-1964), American Academy of Neurological Surgeons (president, 1944), Society of Neurological Surgeons (president 1964-1965), Southern Neurological Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha, Sigma Xi, and charter member of Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars (1969). He was also a member of the Board of Regents at the National Library of Medicine. He served as the president of multiple societies and groups and has received awards that include the Distinguished Physician Award, Veterans Administration (1971), and Statesman in Medicine Award by Airley Foundation of Warrentown, Virginia
On August 25, 1928, Woodhall married Frances Coleman. Frances was from Duluth, Minnesota. She was an excellent swimmer and aimed to enter the 1924 Olympics, but decided to pursue medical illustration instead. She studied at the Mayo Clinic, then at Johns Hopkins under Max Brodel. She published "The Sign of Babinski: A study of the Evolution of Cortical Dominance in Primates" (1932). She later became a sculptor. Together Barnes and Frances had two children: Colman Barnes and Elizabeth. Barnes Woodhall died in 1985.

Acquisition information:
Accession A2003.024 (acquired, May 2003), Accession A2005.010 (gift, February 2005)
Processing information:

Processed by Archives staff and Emily Glenn: January 2004; encoded by Emily Glenn: March 2004

Organized into the following series: Administrative Correspondence and Subject Files, 1949-1976; Personal and Travel Materials, 1930-1978; Writings and Speeches, 1965-1975; Planning and Development of the Duke University Medical Center, 1960-1970; The Fifth Decade Development Campaign, 1967-1972; Philip Handler Correspondence, 1959-1982; Woodhall - Miscellaneous, 1963-1987.
Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.


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This collection may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals or IRB approval may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which Duke University assumes no responsibility.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Barnes Woodhall Papers, Duke University Medical Center Archives.