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Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective

To Janice Schwensen Wilson, beloved helpmate and inspiration. -John Wilson 4/12/00

About this Site

In 1998 Lane Medical Library's Honorary Curator of Archives and Special Collections, John L. Wilson, MD, completed a 1500 page manuscript entitled "Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: an historical perspective." The completed manuscript included exhaustive references to many original documents in Lane's Archives and Special Collections as well as biographical sketches of early founders of the school. Recognizing the value of this work as a resource for answering reference questions and knowing the limitations of the traditional publication process, a more flexible and usable publication model was sought.

The project to migrate this electronic text to the web began in February 1999. By using a chronology of the Stanford School of Medicine and its predecessor schools as a guide, this web site was developed in order to incorporate content from Dr. Wilson's electronic text and key founding documents, photographs, and other archival material from the Lane Medical Library Archives and Special Collections.

About the Author

photo of Dr. Wilson

Born in 1914, John Long Wilson received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in1935 and his MD from Harvard in 1939. His residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital was interrupted when he enlisted in the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor and was on active duty for five years much of the time in the Pacific Theater of Operations as a Naval Flight Surgeon. Continuing his residency at U.S. Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Massachusetts until his discharge, he completed it at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1949.

From the beginning of his civilian medical career, Dr. John L. Wilson's focus on medical education was evident. In 1949, on his way from San Francisco to join the faculty of Cheloo Medical School in China, he learned that the Communists had closed the school to Americans. Instead, he became a Clinical Instructor in Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Still intent on serving abroad, he began a fifteen year career with the American University of Beirut in 1953. In preparation for this, he had spent a year in Thailand under the Point IV Program with a team of U.S. physicians from Washington University School of Medicine. At AUB he served as Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery and Acting Dean and Dean of the Faculties of Medical Sciences.

Returning to Stanford in 1968, he served as Professor of Surgery until his retirement. He was the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs from 1968 until 1984 and was called upon to be Acting Dean from September 1, 1970 to August 31, 1971.

After this distinguished career in surgery and administration, Dr. Wilson spearheaded the efforts to secure the archival records of the Stanford University School of Medicine and to integrate them with records of the predecessor schools. With the blessing of the Office of the Dean and working with Stanford University Archives and Peter Stangl, the Director of Lane Library, he oversaw the establishment of the Lane Medical Archives. This was accomplished in late 1989 when he began work on writing a history of the Stanford School of Medicine and its predecessor schools based on the archival records held in the collection. As Honorary Curator of the Lane Medical Archives, Dr. Wilson has assisted hundreds of researchers with the collection and also completed Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective.

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