The Charles H. Frazier Papers are divided into three series:
a general file, 1901-1941; medical manuscripts, papers, and
reprints, 1914-1942; and a medical case file [patient records],
Series 1 contains biographical and bibliographical data of Charles
H. Frazier; his correspondence; instructional notes and other
documents related to his teaching of medicine; records of the
various activities, medical as well as social, in which he was
engaged; and personal and miscellaneous material.
Though occupying only one cubic foot, this series provides
a comprehensive and historical perspective of Frazier's career both
as an internationally renowned neurosurgical pioneer and as
a distinguished social activist. The collection documents his
commitment to various committees and departments at the School
of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, particularly
his work during his terms as Dean of the Medical School and
as chairman of the surgical division of the University Hospital,
and the part he played in fund raising for both the University
Fund in general and the construction of an addition to the women's
surgical ward in the early 1930s. In the field of social service,
his activities are documented by material concerned with the Public
Charities Association of Pennsylvania and the Social Service
Department of the University Hospital.
Series 2 consists of medical manuscripts written or compiled by
Frazier, some of his medical theses, and reprints of either
his own works or works done by others in areas of his interest.
The most important item in this section is the manuscript of
Frazier's textbook material on trigeminal neuralgia. The manuscript
exists in several typescript versions, from "rough manuscript"
to "office copy," dating from 1932 to 1934.
Series 3, Frazier's medical case file or patient records, 1900-1945,
comprises 60 out of the total of 62 cubic feet. During the
mid 1920s, Frazier took responsibility as chief surgeon but
left the pre surgery examination and operational practice to
his assistants. Some senior assistants, among them Francis
C. Grant (1891-1967), played an increasingly important role
in the work. The assistants often answered inquiries from patients
on behalf of Frazier during his absence. After Frazier's death
in 1936, some patients who had been registered in his service
became the responsibility of his former assistants. Their case
records, however, remained in Frazier's file. This explains
why this series runs to 1945 instead of ending in 1936.
Another important feature of the file is that it is not constituted
only of patient records in the general sense of the term. Like
ordinary patient records, each case in this file includes a
history of the patient's illness; a description of his family
and social background; results of his pre surgical examinations;
the surgeon's operation notes; pathological reports; and, in
cases where the patient failed to survive the surgery, a death
comment by either Frazier himself or the surgeon who had actually
performed the operation. But unlike ordinary patient records,
this file is not confined to such routine and purely technical aspects.
In addition to records of the patient's illness, medical treatment,
and follow up matter, there exists in many cases correspondence
exchanged either between the patient and Frazier, or between
Frazier and other physicians who had referred the patient to
Frazier or had participated in consultations over the case.
Correspondence in this category often exceeds the scope of
medical consultation and extends into matters of social, humanitarian,
ethical, or economic concerns. Such concerns on the part of
Frazier provide valuable insight into his character and personality.
The medical case file is arranged in volumes numbered to 103.
The actual total of volumes is, however, between 20 and 30,
there being a gap between volumes 20 and 99 while the volumes
from 99 to 100 exist chiefly in listings of patients. Each
volume is sub divided into several sections; each section is
sub coded with additional Roman numerals or English capital
The ordering of the 20-odd volumes seems arbitrary and accidental.
The present order was finally set by Frazier himself in 1934.
Each volume was to concentrate on one particular disease or
a group of similar or inter related diseases. The demarcation
between volumes, however, is not absolute. In some cases overlapping
is unavoidable. In general, however, the whole file consists
of seven major groups: pituitary and other miscellaneous brain
and nerve disorders; brain tumors; epilepsy; neuralgia (facial, trigeminal,
peripheral, etc.); head wounds and injuries (concussions and
contusions caused in accidents, gunshot wounds); spinal cord
diseases; and thyroid diseases (goitre, etc.) . Some material,
unbound and unclassified, consists of cases which had been either
misplaced or only tentatively sorted or cases which were established
in 1935 and 1936, after Frazier had set the order for the records
established up to 1934. Material in these two groups has been
attached to the end of the file under the sub heading "Unbound
and Unclassified Records".
Series 3.1 contains six volumes of medical case files, spanning
1913 to 1933, which were added to the Charles H. Frazier Papers
in 1991. Like the volumes contained in Series 3, the volumes
in Series 3.1 are arranged in numerical order; each volume contains
cases pertaining to a certain disease and method of treatment.
The diseases represented in Series 3.1 include atypical neuralgia
(Volume 10 1/2), trigeminal neuralgia treated by alcoholic injection (Volume
11-B), and trigeminal neuralgia treated by a major operation
Volume 1, II A and Volume 1, III contain medical case files that
were reclassified in 1931. Volume 1, II A contains cases diagnosed
as pituitary tumors that were later reclassified as primary
pituitary, unverified at operation. Volume 1, III contains
files that were reclassified as primary pituitary, adenocarcinoma.
The medical case files contained in Series 3.1 contain the same
information as the files in Series 3, including correspondence
between Frazier and his patients, or between Frazier and other
physicians. Also present in some of the files are photographs
of patients taken immediately after surgery or treatment; these
photographs reveal the practice of drawing lines on the patient's
face to signify anesthetized areas.
Most of the medical case files in Volumes 11-B and 12-F contain
responses to a 1923 survey sent to Frazier's former patients.
The surveys provide information about the recurrence or non recurrence
of the patient's condition, treatment received from other physicians,
and the general health of the patient. These surveys provide
useful information about the long term effectiveness of Frazier's treatments.