Name and location of repository
Level of description
James L. O'Leary Papers
- 1928-1975 (Creation)
27.00 Linear Feet
Name of creator
James L. O'Leary was born on December 8, 1904 in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. At the age of two, his family moved to San Antonio, Texas. He began his undergraduate career at the University of Texas in San Antonio in 1920. After two years, he transferred to the University of Chicago, where he was awarded his B.S. in Biology in 1925. Following his matriculation, he began work on his Ph.D. in Anatomy. During his Ph.D. studies, he worked as an Instructor in Anatomy at the university. After receiving his doctorate in 1928, he accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Anatomy at the Washington University School of Medicine. In addition to his role at Washington University, O'Leary he continued his studies in Chicago, pursuing a medical degree during the summer months. He received his M.D. from the University of Chicago in 1931.
After graduation, O'Leary moved to St. Louis and began to work full time at the university. In 1933, he was promoted to Associate Professor of Anatomy and, in 1941, was jointly appointed to as an Assistant Professor of Neurology in the developing Neurology Division. He held both of these positions until 1946. In 1941, O'Leary joined the United States Medical Corps. He was assigned to the Army School of Military Neuropsychiatry at Mason General Hospital in New York, where he taught neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and electroencephalography. He was honorably discharged in 1946, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Upon his return, O'Leary was appointed as an Associate Professor and head of the Neurology Division. Under his leadership, the division was granted full department status in 1963. During his time with the department, he extensively studied nerve physiology, pain mechanisms, and the clinical and electroencephalographic aspects of epilepsy. He continued to serve as head of the department until his retirement from teaching and administration in 1971. He continued his work with the university in the role of Emeritus Professor of Neurology and Neurological Surgery.
Throughout his career, Dr. O'Leary was involved with a number of professional organizations. He served as president of the American Neurological Society, American Electroencephalographic Society, and the American Epilepsy Society. In 1971, he received the American Neurological Association's Jacoby Award, the highest honor awarded by the association. James L. O'Leary died on May 25, 1975 at the age of 70 years.
Scope and content
O’Leary’s career illustrates the establishment of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine as a distinct medical discipline. The O’Leary papers include correspondence, lectures, manuscripts, card files, photographs, certificates, and reprints of articles. They document his work in many areas of neurological research, but particularly his investigations in the diagnosis and treatment of ataxia and epilepsy. There is also significant material on O’Leary’s contributions to American Neurological Association, Epilepsy Association of America, Epilepsy Foundation of America, WUSM Administration, and WUSM Department of Neurology.
System of arrangement
Conditions governing access
The collection is open and accessible for research.
Conditions governing reproduction
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Item description, Reference Code, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.
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Place access points
Name access points
- Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine (Subject)
- American Neurological Association (Subject)
- Epilepsy Association of America (Subject)
- Epilepsy Foundation of America (Subject)