Name and location of repository
Level of description
Vilray Blair Papers
- 1901-1955 (Creation)
- 1901-1955 (Creation)
12.00 Linear Feet
Name of creator
Vilray Papin Blair is most known for his pioneering work in plastic surgery. A native of St. Louis, Blair graduated from Christian Brothers College in 1890 and subsequently enrolled in the St. Louis Medical College. There he was greatly influenced by Elisha Hall Gregory, a professor of surgery. He graduated in 1893 and began an internship at Mullanphy Hospital under distinguished surgeon Paul Yoer Tupper.
In 1894 Blair was appointed instructor with the Anatomy Department of St. Louis Medical College (which had joined Washington University in 1891). In 1896 he took a leave from medicine to join the crew of a merchant vessel bound for Europe, a decision that led to him becoming a ship surgeon for a journey to Brazil and then a military surgeon for British troops sailing to West Africa.
Upon his return to St. Louis in 1900, Blair established a private surgical practice and resumed teaching at the School of Medicine. He was named to the visiting staff of St. Louis City Hospital in 1910. In 1917 Blair joined the U.S. Army Corps entering World War I and was named chief of oral and plastic surgery. On his return to St. Louis he was active in the Medical Reserve Corps and served as attending specialist in plastic surgery at the Jefferson Barracks Veterans Hospital.
Blair served as assistant professor of clinical surgery at the School of Medicine in 1922 and was named professor in 1927. He also served as professor of oral surgery at the Washington University School of Dentistry. He became an emeritus professor of both schools in 1941. Throughout his career, Blair published many influential books and articles in the areas of plastic and oral surgery. Another foremost achievement was his leadership in creating the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which helped seal his place as a pioneer in establishing plastic surgery as a unique branch of medicine.
Scope and content
The Vilray Blair Papers comprise 10 series that include office files, publications by Blair and other authors, and military memorabilia. The publications document Blair’s interest and achievements in plastic and oral surgery, especially his success in treating harelip and cleft palate, skin grafting, and reconstructive facial surgery. His correspondence and professional association memorabilia illuminate his extensive involvement as a recognized leader in the medical community, and his military memorabilia details his time as a plastic surgeon in the U.S. Army.
System of arrangement
Conditions governing access
With the exception of Series 10 (Box 23), this 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.
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
At the time of Dr. Blair's death, his papers were in the possession of his secretary, Della Cooper. They were transferred thereafter to the Blair Family and were for many years in the possession of a daughter, Mrs. Nancy Blair O'Leary. On December 15, 1978 Mrs. O'Leary donated the papers to the Archives of Washington University School of Medicine Library, where they were accessioned as Faculty Collection 25 (FC025). The collection was opened to the public July 1, 1980.
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Rules or conventions
"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."
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