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William B. Kountz Papers | Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives

Collection Overview

Title: William B. Kountz PapersAdd to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1924-1979

ID: FC/FC045

Extent: 2.0 Linear Feet

Biographical/Historical Note

William B. Kountz was born in Saxton, Missouri in 1896 and attended schools in nearby St. Joseph. He entered Washington University as an undergraduate in 1918 and (without formally completing a bachelor’s degree) continued on through medical school, graduating in 1926. Until 1928 WBK was an intern and resident physician at Barnes, St. Louis Maternity, and St. Louis Children’s Hospitals. He then became a physician with the cardiovascular service of the Washington University Dispensary. The award of a national Research Council Fellowship offered WBK the opportunity for further training abroad, and for eighteen months beginning in 1930 he visited hospitals in Britain, Germany, and Egypt. (He later recalled that the chance to study Egyptian mummies inspired his interest in aging.) He returned in late 1931 to join the clinical faculty of the School and to launch he career as a leading cardiologist in St. Louis.

WBK served on the staff of Barnes and Lutheran Hospitals, but became particularly well known for his treatment and study of aged patients at the St. Louis City Infirmary (later, St. Louis Chronic Hospital) on Arsenal Street. In 1938 he helped establish a special geriatrics research unit at the Infirmary. In 1946 WUSM organized a Division of Gerontology based at the Chronic Hospital and WBK was named its director of clinical services. That same year WBK became a founding member of the American Society for the Study of Arteriosclerosis, which later became a branch of the American Heart Association. In 1954 WBK’s work received additional support through the establishment of a St. Louis-based Gerontological Research Foundation.

WBK died in 1962. He was succeeded as head of the Division of Gerontology by John Esben Kirk, under whom the program continued until 1973.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Kountz papers are arranged in five short series, including one (Series 5) comprising correspondence received by his wife, Willie Mae Kountz, after his death. In general, the papers reflect to a significant extent Mrs. Kountz’s selections of materials to document her husband’s career. Included are correspondence, press clippings, and publications.


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 (

Related Materials:

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

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Alphabetical Correspondence Files, 1930-1965.],
[Series 2: Chronological Press Clipping and Correspondence Files, 1932-1965.],
[Series 3: Gerontological Research Foundation Publications, 1959-1962.],
[Series 4: Scientific Publications, 1924-1955.],
[Series 5: Correspondence of Willie Mae Kountz, 1967-1979.],

Series 1: Alphabetical Correspondence Files, 1930-1965.Add to your cart.
This short series is comprised of correspondence and other general file documents.  It appears to have been selected and rearranged (probably by Willie Mae Kountz) following WBK's death, inasmuch as it hardly could have been the complete correspondence generated during his long medical career, and because it contains documents pertaining to the Gerontological Research Foundation from as late as 1965.  It remains nevertheless a collection affording significant information relating to WBK's career, gerontology as a specialty, and programs at the St. Louis Infirmary (later Chronic Hospital), among other subjects.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: A, 1939-1958.Add to your cart.
Folder 2: American Geriatrics Society, 1962.Add to your cart.
Folder 3: American Society for the Aged, undated.Add to your cart.
Folder 4: B, 1949-1958.Add to your cart.
Folder 5: C, 1951-1957.Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Cantor, Eddie, 1950-1951.Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Committee on Gerontology, 1956.Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Cowdry, E. V., 1942-1958.Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Creative Frontiers, 1951.Add to your cart.
Folder 10: G, 1958-1959.Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Gerontological Research Foundation, 1955-1965.Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Division of Gerontology, 1946-1948 and undated.Add to your cart.
Folder 13: H, 1957-1961.Add to your cart.
Includes letter from Sen. Thomas C. Hennings.
Folder 14: Institute on Problems of Aging, WU, 1949.Add to your cart.
Folder 15: International Association of Gerontology, 1954.Add to your cart.
Folder 16: International Gerontological Congress, 1956.Add to your cart.
Folder 17: K, 1949-1957.Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Kountz, WB.  Biographical, 1940-1960.Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Kountz, WB.  Curriculum vitae, drafts, 1930-1957.Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Kountz, WB.  Cards from family, 1958-1959, and undated.Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Kountz, WB.  "The cardiac in industry," fragment of address to A.S.S.E., 1958.Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Kountz, WB.  Degeneration associated with age, text of radio interview recorded at American Medical Association meeting, San Francisco, 1946.Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Kountz, WB.  Reviews of Thyroid function and its possible role in vascular degeneration, 1952.Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Kountz, WB.  Funeral address by Methodist Bishop Ivan Lee Holt, 1962.Add to your cart.
Folder 25: L, 1950-1958.Add to your cart.
Folder 26: M, 1942-1961.Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Missouri League of Nursing Education, Three institutes on geriatrics and geriatric nursing, 1949.Add to your cart.
Folder 28: N, 1938-1957.Add to your cart.
Folder 29: Oxytropin-lipotropin, 1952-1960Add to your cart.
WBK endured an unwanted brush with national notoriety beginning in 1952, when he was quoted in the popular press as endorsing two not-scientifically tested compounds, oxytropin and lipotropin, that, taken together, constituted "the anti-old-age drug."  He refuted the report and threatened to take legal action to clear his name.  The controversy nevertheless dogged him for years thereafter.
Folder 30: P, 1945-1960Add to your cart.
Folder 31: Pan-American Congress of Gerontology. 1956Add to your cart.
Folder 32: Post-Graduate Course in Geriatric Medicine, WU. 1957Add to your cart.
Folder 33: R, 1939-1960Add to your cart.
Folder 34: S, 1949-1960Add to your cart.
Folder 35: St. Louis City Infirmary, 1943-1946Add to your cart.
Folder 36: Smith, John Russell, 1939Add to your cart.
Folder 37: T, 1949-1960Add to your cart.
Folder 38: Theses of conference papers on the problem of the source of senility, Kiev, USSR, 1938Add to your cart.
Folder 39: Time (magazine), Problem of old age article, 1956Add to your cart.
Folder 40: V, 1958Add to your cart.
Folder 41: W, 1943-1960Add to your cart.
Includes report to W. Barry Wood on research at the St. Louis Infirmary.
Folder 42: WU Alumni Citation, Founders Day, 1957-1958Add to your cart.
Folder 43: Washington University, appointment letters 1938-1940Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Alphabetical Correspondence Files, 1930-1965.],
[Series 2: Chronological Press Clipping and Correspondence Files, 1932-1965.],
[Series 3: Gerontological Research Foundation Publications, 1959-1962.],
[Series 4: Scientific Publications, 1924-1955.],
[Series 5: Correspondence of Willie Mae Kountz, 1967-1979.],

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