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Frederick Murtagh papers

Identifier: MSS 2/336

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondencem typescripts, ephemera, photogrphs and slides, memoranda, and records of operations. It documents the career of Murtagh and many of the operations and procedures within the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), the hospital at Temple University, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Mostly, the collection concerns Murtagh's work as a neurosurgeon at HUP. The history of procedures he performed is well covered as are his contributions to HUP and the theory and practice of neurosurgery.

Series 1 contains Murtagh's operation notes from 1947 to 1989. The records include procedures Murtagh used in treating brain tumors, aneurysms, hematomas, as well as records of back operations, nerve operations, and skull procedures (craniectomies craniotomies, and cranioplasties). Series 2 contains records on hospital development and administration, primarily at HUP. Included are records of hospital finance from 1984. Information on committees is also included, with records of the Clinical Practice Executive Committee (CPEC), Clinical Practices at the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP), and the Emergency Service Review Committee. Development of the Clinical Data Management and Analysis System (CLINFO) is also covered in Series 2.

Series 2 includes information on funding at HUP, with records on the Neurosurgical Fund in Memory of Gloria Kent, and the Robert Groff Neurosurgical Fund and Visiting Professorship at (HUP).

Records on the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at HUP are part of series 2. Included are records on proposals for relocations and developments in resources within the unit. Also part of this subseries (2.7) are protocols for health professionals in the acute brain injury unit.

Major hospital building projects are documented in Series 2. The move of the Department of Neurosurgery into the 5th floor of the Silverstein Pavilion (1975-1978) is covered as is the Phase IV project, a redevelopment (apparently a relocation) of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit in 1980-1986.

Series 2 contains records of quality assurance at HUP, especially pertaining to the Department of Neurosurgery. It includes correspondence and information on screening criteria for staff. The quality assurance subseries (2.9) also includes records of the HUP Pre-Admission Review for Non-Emergency Admissions and Transfers, the Pennsylvania Peer Review Organization, the the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Hospitals (JCAH).

Records of malpractice losses and premiums are included in series 2, including typescripts discussing issues concerning malpractice liability, as well as statistical information, memoranda, and correspondence involving HUP and the malpractice issue. Records addressing affirmative action are part of series 2, with records from both HUP and Temple University.

Hospital programs of HUP are well represented by records in Series 2 including the Clinical Effectiveness Program, the Library Program Committee, Morbidity and Mortality, the visiting professors program, and the Task Force to examine the patient flow in surgical departments. Subseries 2.12 also includes a typescript from Temple University entitled An Academic Program in the Neurological and Sensory Sciences, 1968, and records from the Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar Conference.

Series 3 contains records on the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and the School of Medicine at HUP. The subseries (3.1) on the Department of Neurology contains records on the deparment of neurology search committee from 1981, the Neurology 200 class at HUP, and Neurology Grand Rounds (1975-1978). Subseries 3.1(6) includes several records on the HUP Neurological Center. Included here are typescripts, drafts, correspondence and memoranda, and minutes concerned primarily with development of the center.

The subseries on neurosurgery (3.2) is comprised mostly of records regarding the theories and practices involved with neurosurgery, and includes correspondence, personal notes, statistical information, and hospital forms. the topics covered here include acoustic neuromas, cerebrovascular surgery, brain tumors, carotid endaterectomy, aneurysms, and HUP as a trial center for MP 10013, a water soluble medial for Myelography. Subseries 3.2 also includes budjet information, patient activity projections, and other administrative records.

The subseries on the School of Medicine (3.3) is concerned primarily with the appointment of faculty and includes correspondence, memoranda, and typescripts (1970's).

Series 4 is concerned with the teaching of neurology and neurosurgery 1975-1985. Class schedules, statistical information, and correspondence are included as well as typescripts and notes for Murtagh's lectures.

Series 5 is concerned with Murtagh's articles and professional contributions, 1953-1987. It includes writing on aneurysms, cerebellar astrocytoma (adult and pediatric), cerebral vascular surgery, cerebral hemodynamic alterations accociated with vascular surgery, and cerebral abscess. A large portion of the collection includes writings on stereotaxic system surgery (5.4) Subseries 5.5 includes records on develpments in shunts and flushing devices. Series 5 also contains reprints from professional journals on various topics, and typescripts from other physicians concerned with Murtagh's areas of study and practice.

Series 6 includes professional correspondence, including letters from Pennsylvania senators on Senate Bill 1513, advice to students on neurosurgery as a career, and miscellaneous correspondence arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent. Series 7 contains records on court cases that Murtagh was involved with. It includes court and medical records from Wittkorn vs. Murtagh, MD., et. al. and. Also included are court records from cases invloving Thorotrast. This series also includes correspondence regarding Murtagh's reviews of medical information involved in court cases.

Series 8, 9, and 10 contain personal information , such as family medical records and retirement information (access restricted); personal and professional photographs and slides; and various awards and honors presented to Dr. Murtagh. Series 11 contains records involving various aspects of Murtagh's involvement with and presidency of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Access to these records is restricted.


  • 1947 - 1996


Biographical / Historical

Dr. Frederick Murtagh, Philadelphia Neurosurgeon, was born in Philadelphia on 16 May, 1917. He had three children, Frederick Reed, Dean Frederic, and Merry Jane Murtagh. He died on 16 June, 1996.

Dr. Murtagh graduated from Overbrook High School and the University of Pannsylvania, and obtained a medical degree from Temple University in 1943. From medical school he entered the Navy and served in WWII. He was the medical officer on the USS Wythe, a support vessel which was part of the amphibious forces in the Pacific. His experiences in the Navy would eventually be reflected in his autobiography, From the Sword to the Scalpel, published in 1996.

Upon returning from the Navy in 1947, Dr. Murtagh studied neurosurgery at Temple earning a master's degree in 1951, and then remaining there to teach. He was appointed professor of neurosurgery and chair of the Division of Neurosurgical Sciences in 1964. In 1971, Dr. Murtagh was appointed chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.


13 Linear feet (26 boxes and 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The Frederick Murtagh Personal Papers were donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Dr. Murtagh's widow, Mrs. Frederick Murtagh, in July 1996.

Separated materials - oversize

Flat file no. 1, drawer 2

Contents: 3 architectural drawings
Frederick Murtagh papers
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States