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Valentina Suntzeff Papers | Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives

Collection Overview

Title: Valentina Suntzeff PapersAdd to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1911-1972

ID: FC/FC020

Extent: 1.5 Linear Feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Valentina Davidovna Suntzeff (1891-1975) was born on February 28, 1891 in Kazan, Russia. She began studying medicine in 1911 at the Women’s Medical Institute in Petrograd (St. Petersburg). After her second year of medical school, she married Alexander Suntzeff, a mechanical engineering student. Despite taking a year off from school following the birth of her daughter Ludmilla, Suntziff was able to graduate in 1917.

Upon graduation, the Suntzeffs moved to Perm, Russia where she found her first job working in a hospital at an ammunition plant. During World War I, Suntzeff worked as a physician in the Russian Army and she served as the Physician-in-Chief of an isolation hospital for infectious diseases. Suntzeff continued living in Perm until the violent Bolshevik Revolution forced her family to evacuate the city. In August 1920, the Suntzeffs emigrated to Manchuria where she worked as a physician at the Central Hospital in Harbin, China. The Suntzeffs spent three years waiting for the situation in their home country to improve. With little hope of ever being able to return to a normal life in Russia, the Suntzeffs made the decision to move to the United States in 1923. As Suntzeff explains in her autobiography, “If you asked me why we decided to go to the United States, the answer is the pursuit of individual freedom which did not exist in Russia either before or after the Revolution.”

In 1923, Suntzeff and her family sailed to Seattle having only $12.00 in their possession. Eventually settling in San Francisco, neither Suntzeff nor her husband could find work in their chosen fields. Instead of continuing her medical career, Suntzeff was forced to work at a sewing factory to make ends meet. After spending four years in San Francisco, Suntzeff’s husband was finally able to find a job as a mechanical engeineer at a match factory in St. Louis. Suntzeff however continued to struggle with finding work as a physician. In her autobiograhy, she attributes this problem to her “broken English and being a woman.”

Finally in 1930, after being out of the medical field for nearly eight years, Suntzeff accepted a job as a volunteer researcher in the Pathology Department of the Washington University School of Medicine. After only three months working as a volunteer, she joined the staff as a Research Assistant in Pathology. In 1941, Suntzeff transferred to the Department of Anatomy when she became a Research Associate in Cancer Research, and in 1958, a Research Associate Professor. Suntzeff and her colleages researched cancer of the skin. Her collaboration with biochemist Christopher Carruthers led to their discovery of a fundamental difference between the chemical composition of cancerous and normal tissues.

Suntzeff retired as Research Associate Professor Emeritus and Lecturer in Anatomy in 1960, but she continued to carry on cancer research for another 15 years. During her career, she authored or co-authored over 90 scientific publications.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The majority of this collection is comprised of Dr. Suntzeff’s reprints. Also included in this collection are photographs and various items relating to her personal and professional life. Dr. Suntzeff’s autobiography (Series 4) is a particularly interesting piece that is very telling of her experiences as a female doctor both in Russia and the United States.

[FC020]

Administrative Information

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

Use Restrictions:

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 (arb@wusm.wustl.edu).

Related Materials:

The Valentina Suntzeff Photographs collection (VC100) is also available in the Bernard Becker Medical Library.

Biography

Preferred Citation: [Item description, Box number, Folder number], Valentina Suntzeff Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University School of Medicine.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Reprints of Dr. Suntzeff.],
[Series 2: Reprints of Dr. Suntzeff's colleagues.],
[Series 3: Newspaper Clippings.],
[Series 4: Dr. Suntzeff's Autobiography.],
[Series 5: Photographs.],
[Series 6: Personal Papers.],
[Series 7: Miscellaneous.],
[Series 8: Bibliographic Cards.],
[All]

Series 7: Miscellaneous.Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 45: Departmental Luncheon Seminars on Cell Surface List of Topics, Discussion Leaders.Add to your cart.
Folder 46: Foreign language materials.Add to your cart.
8 items in Russian; 2 items in French; 1 item in Chinese (partially translated)
Folder 47: Journal, American Review of Soviet Medicine Vol. V, No. 2, 1948.Add to your cart.
Folder 48: Journal, Science Vol. 99, No. 2569, March 24, 1944.Add to your cart.
Folder 49: Request for reprints.Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Reprints of Dr. Suntzeff.],
[Series 2: Reprints of Dr. Suntzeff's colleagues.],
[Series 3: Newspaper Clippings.],
[Series 4: Dr. Suntzeff's Autobiography.],
[Series 5: Photographs.],
[Series 6: Personal Papers.],
[Series 7: Miscellaneous.],
[Series 8: Bibliographic Cards.],
[All]

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