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James Barrett Brown PapersAdd to your cart. | Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives

Title: James Barrett Brown PapersAdd to your cart.
ID: FC/FC118
Extent: 1.5 Linear Feet
Predominant Dates: 1931-1945
expand icon Biographical/Historical Note

James Barrett Brown (1899-1971) was a St. Louis-based plastic surgeon who revolutionized the field with his pioneering use of large split-thickness skin grafts to resurface defects. Brown is also known for his 1954 publication on radical neck dissection, Neck Dissections, and for his work on organizing high-quality plastic surgery to injured soldiers in WWII.

Brown received both his undergraduate and medical education at Washington University in St. Louis, completed in 1923. He then studied surgical training at Barnes Hospital under Evarts Graham and Vilray Blair. Blair's work with head and neck cancer inspired Brown to work in the same practice, sparking a partnership that lasted from 1925 to Blair's death in 1955. Brown focused his research on skin grafts, which had been cut freehand prior to his demonstration in the 1930s that when cut thicker and larger, skin grafts still healed well at the donor site. This revolutionized the established principles of skin graft, which required great skill to carry out, leading to wide ramifications throughout the entire field of surgery especially thermal burn surgery. When mechanical and electric dermatomes were introduced, the cutting of skin grafts became more precise and required less skill and practice for the surgeon.

Brown's research culminated in the authorship of more than 300 articles and 60 book chapters on facial surgery, plastic surgery, oral surgery, skin grafting, thermal burn care, and neck disscection. In addition to his academic career, Brown's work in soldier care was significant. He helped organize facilities for reconstricutive surgery for soldiers in England during WWII, and was instrumental in establishing plastic surgery centers in the United States for returning casualties. Brown directed one center at Valley Forge, PA, where over 2,500 patients were treated. Brown's leadership also spread to the medical community, having co-founded the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and served in leadership roles for the American College of Surgeons, the American Association of Plastic Surgeons and the Western Surgical Association.

expand icon Access and Use Restrictions
Restrictions: The collection is open and accessible for research.

Users of the collection should read and abide by the Rights and Permissions guidelines at the Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives.

Users of the collection who wish to cite items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication must request, sign, and return a Statement of Use form to the Archives.

For detailed information regarding use of this collection, contact the Archives and Rare Book Department of the Becker Library (

Related Materials: See small collections (SC).
Preferred Citation: [Item description, Box number, Folder number], James Barrett Brown Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.
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