The bulk of the material is in the form of medical records from Putnam's neurological
surgery practice, covering the period from 1947 to 1975 when Putnam worked in Beverly
Hills, California and consulted at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital there. Records include
patient case histories; medical test reports; prescriptions; correspondence with
physicians, patients and their relatives, and lawyers; photographs and slides; workman's
compensation and disability claims, appeals, and testimony; and billing information and
payment claims. Patients originated mostly from Southern California, though there are
cases referred from throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and as far away as
China and Brazil. The collection documents Putnam's surgical and pharmaceutical treatment
of epilepsy; pain; head, neck, back and limb injuries; tumors; multiple sclerosis;
Parkinson's disease (aka paralysis agitans); and other disorders typically seen in a
neurology practice of the time. The records document the use of phenytoin sodium
(Dilantin; Parke-Davis), along with clinical trials of other anticonvulsants such as
glutamic acid and Spirodon (Cutter) in the mid and late 1950's. The surgical treatment of
several cases of infantile hydrocephalus and meningomyeloceles (aka myelomeningoceles or
Spina bifida aperta) in the 1950's is accompanied by pre-and post-operative photographs.
Unique cases include one of Ataxia-Telangiectasis (A-T, or cerebellar telangiectasis) in
1953 and a renowned case of "electronic vision" which was performed in 1957, during
Putnam's tenure as director of neurosurgery at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. In the latter
case, electrodes were implanted in the calcarine fissure of a woman with optic atrophy
and connected to a photo cell; this artificial vision device allowed the patient to
perceive light flashes.
Tracy J. Putnam was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 14, 1894. Following A.B.
(1916) and M.D. (1920) degrees from Harvard University, his training included
neurosurgery under Harvey Cushing at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1925-28) and
neurology with Stanley Cobb at the Boston City Hospital neurological unit (1929-33).
Access restricted; biographical information from patient records may not be disclosed;
researchers must first apply in writing to the History and Special Collections librarian,
outlining the research project and clearly presenting the purpose for which the records
are to be used.