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Francis Clark Wood papers I

Identifier: MSS 2/228-01

Scope and Contents

This collection is the larger of two collections of Francis C. Wood's papers, the other being MSS 2/0228-02. This extensive collection (1892-1989) chronicles the life and career of a 20th century physician, scientist, soldier, administrator, and teacher. The collection is divided roughly evenly among the different phases of his life and career. Because Dr. Wood was a leader in both his community and profession, the collection documents the activities and functioning of many institutions and associations. Examples include the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the Measey Foundation, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In addition, other contemporary leaders in medicine, such as Alfred N. Richards and Charles C. Wolferth, are represented in the papers. Finally, Dr. Wood's experience during the Second World War as preserved in the collection helps document American service in the often forgotten China-Burma-India theater.

The materials preserved in Series 1 (1892-1989) pertain to Dr. Wood's family and personal life, his education, and his awards and honors. The series contains biographical and autobiographical information regarding Dr. Wood and his family. A number of personal diaries--the majority being travel ones--and some personal documents are included. Also contained in this series is Dr. Wood's correspondence with family members, including his brother Clinton Tyler Wood, who held a high level position in the administration of the U.S. Marshall Plan. A few items from Dr. Wood's education are present, but little, if any, pertains to his medical education. The materials relating to Dr. Wood's honors include not just actual awards but correspondence, acceptance speech notes, photographs, and other materials.

The small Series 2 (1916-1988) contains Dr. Wood's general correspondence. It is divided into correspondence with physicians, with non-physicians, letters of recommendation, and one miscellaneous letter. The last item is a copy of a letter written in 1916 by Arthur D. Hill to George W. Anderson in support of the nomination of William Brandice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dr. Wood's research is partially documented in Series 3 (1932-[1937?]). The bulk of the series consists of holographs and typescripts together with supporting material for the many articles that Dr. Wood and his research partners wrote and published concerning their experiments. Some raw data and case history material is included. Access to the case history material is restricted. All of the research material regards the heart, and most deals with electrocardiography. The last subseries details Dr. Wood's belief in the value of research for medical students.

Series 4 (1940-1984) consists of materials relating to Dr. Wood's military service. The bulk of materials concerns Dr. Wood's war service, but some relate to his reserve duty. Subseries 4.1 includes an exceptional collection of letters (1942-1945) sent by Dr. Wood to wife during his active service. The letters number in the hundreds and chronicle Dr. Wood's experiences from his induction to discharge. This subseries also contains Dr. Wood's personal service files, including his reserve and veteran papers. Subseries 4.2 encompasses materials relating to the administration of 20th General Hospital. It includes correspondence, annual reports, hospital regulations, commendations, and other items. The small subseries 4.3 consists of general U.S. Army Medical Corps instructions and publications: Essential Technical Medical Data memoranda, circular letters, and a technical manual. Subseries 4.4 contains typescripts and supporting materials for the many articles that were written and published as the result of the Hospital's daily operation. Subseries 4.5 contains medical reference files on various subjects. Lastly, subseries 4.6 consists of histories of the 20th General Hospital. Of special note are those histories written by Dr. Wood that contain hospital admission statistics. Several of the subseries contain case history material, and access to these items is restricted.

Dr. Wood's teaching career is chronicled in Series 5 (1935-1988). Series 5.1 consists of lecture notes, course materials, and other related items. Some files pertain to specific courses, while the rest to specific subjects. Student evaluations of Dr. Wood's course "A Humanistic approach to medicine" (a favorite topic of his) comprise Series 5.2. All the evaluations are positive. Items relating to lectures given by Dr. Wood at the University of Pennsylvania but not as part of a course are in Series 5.3. Dr. Wood gave some of these talks at other institutions. Series 5.4 contains materials on teaching techniques. Dr. Wood was frequently asked to attend the reunions of former students, and materials relating to these gatherings comprise the large series 5.5. Likewise, Dr. Wood attended many commencements and, in 1976, addressed the graduating medical class. Items regarding his address are in Series 5.6. Some case history material is contained in the series, and access to this material is restricted.

Series 6 (1931-1985) documents Dr. Wood's chairmanship in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Subseries 6.1 consists of materials pertaining to the administration of the School. Especially rich are the thirty-one files relating to the annual reports for the period (1947-1965) that Dr. Wood was chairman. These bulky files contain section reports, correspondence, memoranda, and other items that provide insight into the School's functioning and its staff members for the entire period of Dr. Wood's chairmanship. Also in the series are materials pertaining to various studies that were conducted, including a University educational survey (1958-1960), medical teaching study [1957-1958], and patient care study (1972-1973). Additionally, Subseries 6.1 contains some departmental reports, yearly planning schedules, and a file regarding Dr. Wood's retirement as Chairman. Materials relating to the School's finances are in Subseries 6.2. The bulk of these materials concern the funds given by C. Mahlon Kline. This materials are rich in content, detailing Dr. Wood's personal dealing with Mr. Kline, and cover Dr. Wood's term as chairman and beyond. Subseries 6.3 contains documents relating to University functions and events that Dr. Wood attended in his official capacity as Chairman. Finally, records regarding University personnel and job applicants are in Subseries 6.4. Dr. Wood solicited evaluations of job applicants from other health professionals, and many evaluators were candid in their appraisals. Access, however, to personnel materials is restricted.

Materials related to Dr. Wood's association with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia are contained in Series 7 (1931-1988). He served as President of the College from 1967 to 1969, and his term is documented in the large Subseries 7.1. Minutes of Council meetings, administrative files, "Letter[s] from the President" files, and annual address holographs and typescripts make up this subseries. Some material in Subseries 7.1 postdates Dr. Wood's term as President. The equally large Subseries 7.2 contains items relating to various College events. In 1976, the College established an institute for the history of medicine, and Subseries 7.3 documents Dr. Wood's association with the institute. Some material deals with the establishment of the institute. Also included are applications for the research fellowships offered by the institute, but access to these files is restricted. The small subseries 7.4 contains material relating to the College library, while the even smaller subseries 7.5 consists of histories of the College.

The large Series 8 (1942-1988) contains materials relating to other organizations with which Dr. Wood was associated. The large bulk relates to the alumni associations (Princeton and the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania) of which Dr. Wood was a member. These files contain biographical information concerning class members. Of special note are the files relating to the Twenty-two Foundation, a non-profit corporation set up by the 1922 class of Princeton that provided financial assistance to needy class members and their spouses. The bulk of material consists of a sampling of thank-you notes sent by gift recipients to Dr. Wood, but some regarding the operation of the Foundation is included. Other notable organizations documented in Series 8 are the Measey Foundation (though, MSS 2/0228-02 has considerably more material), Equitable Insurance, the Merion Cricket Club, the Medical Club, and the Swiftwater Preserve. Dr. Wood was an avid fisherman, and the large quantity of materials relating to the Swiftwater Preserve reflect his interest.

The materials preserved in Series 9 (1931-1982) document only a very small part of Dr. Wood's medical practice. Dr. Wood's large accumulation of medical case files--nearly equaling in size both collections of his personal paper--were not donated. What does exist in Series 9 are some case history files and one administrative file. Access to the case history material is restricted. Of special note is Subseries 9.2 which consists of a file devoted to a 1959 malpractice case concerning a patient treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Series 10 (1926-1989) consists of holographs, typescripts, and supporting materials for some of the numerous addresses and speeches given by Dr. Wood. Materials for speeches and addresses sponsored by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and those organizations in Series 8 are kept with the other materials relating to these organizations and not in Series 10. Subseries 10.1 consists of tributes or introductions given by Dr. Wood for other physicians. The bulk of the series is in Subseries 10.2, which is arranged alphabetically by the title of each speech or address. Where Dr. Wood provided a title, this is used in quotations. Otherwise a title based on subject content was provided for arrangement purposes. Throughout his career, Dr. Wood exhibited a special interest in what he termed humanism in medicine, and his concern is reflected in many of his speeches, most notably "The Art of Medicine." Another area of special interest to Dr. Wood was old, often unorthodox, remedies, and he used these remedies for the basis of a speech titled "Tricks of the Trade." Dr. Wood solicited and collected old remedies from both inside and outside the medical profession, and some of this material is preserved. The twenty-two files for "Tricks of the Trade" is the largest number of files for any of the speeches.

Publications comprise Series 11 (1911-1988). The series is divided into a subseries for publications by Dr. Wood and another for works by others. Most (if not all) of Dr. Wood's publications can be found in Subseries 11.1, along with correspondence and other items. Dr. Wood kept some publications filed by the authors' names rather than by subject content, and this arrangement was preserved in Series 11.2.

Series 12 (1893-[1980?]) contains photographic prints and other images of Dr. Wood, family members, friends, colleagues, and other subjects. Also included are a number of photograph albums. The series is divided into five subseries: Dr. Wood's portraits, family and friends, medical, 20th General Hospital, and miscellaneous. Dr. Wood's portraits span his entire life and include one color shot from his later years. Both portraits and groups shots make up the family and friends Subseries 12.2. Some photographic prints pre-date 1900, and one daguerreotype is included. All of the photograph albums are in this subseries. The subjects of the medical photographic prints are individual portraits, groups, and events. Of special note is a set of photographic prints taken approximately 1947 of an unidentified seminar held at the School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Also of note is a group caricature of prominent members and former members of the School's staff based on the well-known caricature of famous French physicians. Those photographic prints relating to Dr. Wood's war service but not filed with textual material are in Subseries 12.4. Photographic prints of staff members comprise the bulk of the subseries. Of exceptional quality are four U.S. Army Signal Corps photographic prints, two of which depict an operation in progress. Also noteworthy is a color photographic print of the front entrance to the 20th General Hospital. Those photographic prints in the small miscellaneous subseries feature subjects that could not be fully identified.

Dr. Wood's subject (medical) reference files comprise Series 13 (1927-1985). Most files contain only one or a few items, usually reprints and articles. Two exceptions are worth pointing out. Subseries 13.76 or "Unusual occurrences in medical cases" consists of case histories with interesting anomalies. Dr. Wood solicited and received such cases from health professionals mainly in the Philadelphia area. Access to case history material is restricted. Second are Dr. Wood's large files on Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, which contain materials dating to his years of research.

The last Series 14 (1924-1988) consists of biographies, obituaries, and similar materials. It is arranged into two subseries: those works written by Dr. Wood and those by others. The files are then arranged alphabetically by the subject's name. The series is a good source of biographical information for many of the people Dr. Wood knew and with whom he worked. Individuals of note include Isidore S. Ravdin, Oliver Hazard Perry Pepper, Charles C. Wolferth, Alfred N. Richards, and John Heysham Gibbon.


  • 1892 - 1989


Biographical / Historical

Francis C. Wood, Philadelphia physician and teacher, was born in South Africa in 1901. In 1926, he married Mary Louise Woods, with whom he had three children: Francis Clark, Jr. (b. 1928), Elizabeth Vance (b. 1930), and Lawrence Crane (b. 1935). Dr. Wood died on December 16, 1990.

At age 12, Wood returned with his family to Ohio, where he attended Wooster Academy. In 1918, he entered Princeton University and graduated in 1922. Wood then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1926. After completing a two year residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Wood began studying cardiology with Charles C. Wolferth. It was during this period (approximately 1931 to 1941) that Wood did his important research, including the development of precordial leads for the electrocardiograph. Starting in 1931, Wood began teaching in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wood's academic career was interrupted in 1942, when he went on active duty in the U.S. Army as a staff member of the 20th General Hospital. After training in Louisiana, the unit was sent to the China-Burma-India theater, where it manned a two-thousand-bed hospital near the base of the Burma Road in Assam, India. Wood eventually became Chief of the Medical Services of the hospital.

After the war, Wood returned to the United States and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1947, he was appointed a full Professor of Medicine and, in the same year, succeeded Dr. O. H. Perry Pepper as Chairman of the School of Medicine. Wood served in this latter capacity until 1965. He continued, however, to teach and practice in the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania until a few years before his death.

Wood's association with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia began in 1932, when he was elected a fellow. He served as vice-president in 1964 and then, from 1967 to 1969, as its president. After finishing his final term as president, Wood continued to serve the College in a number of capacities, including as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Wood Institute for the History of Medicine.


26.5 Linear feet (65 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This collection of Wood papers was donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Francis C. Wood on 25 October 1989. It had been preserved at his home in Haverford, Pa. The collection was processed and cataloged from 1992 to 1993. Before processing, a small collection of W. Osler Abbott's professional papers was removed for separate cataloging. During processing, some material was discarded. This material included cartoons, poems (not written by Dr. Wood), miscellaneous magazine and newspaper clippings, retirement home literature, and other extraneous items.

Separated materials - oversize

Flat file no. 1, drawer 2

Contents: 7 certificates, diplomas, photographs
Francis Clark Wood papers I
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