John D. Vavra Papers


Reference code


Level of description



John D. Vavra Papers


  • 1946-1986 (Creation)


19.00 Linear Feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

John D. Vavra was a professor of medicine and assistant dean at Washington University School of Medicine. He was fondly known as "Mr. Ethics" for his interest in medical ethics and teaching the subject in his Medicine in Modern Society course and seminars. He initiated the first class on ethics at the medical school, and it became a popular elective due to his reputation.

Vavra received his medical degree from Washington University in 1954 and joined the faculty in 1959. He also was an adjunct professor of philosophy and theology at Eden Seminary in St. Louis. Throughout his tenure, Vavra served as the head of the internal medical service at City Hospital, assistant dean for post-graduate training, and chairman of the Human Studies Committee for fifteen years, which is responsible for reviewing all research by Washington University faculty. He passed away in 1988 after suffering a heart attack at the age of 60.

Scope and content

The John D. Vavra Papers are organized into 4 Series: 1. Correspondence to Family Members During Military Service, 1946-1947. 2. Correspondence, 1964-1986. 3. Manuscript for Unpublished, Unfinished Book on Medical Ethics, 1980. 4. Letters to Margaret Wallace (Margaret Vaughn) 1965-1968.

System of arrangement

Conditions governing access

The collection is open and accessible for research.

Technical access

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 (

Preferred Citation:

Item description, Reference Code, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Rules or conventions

"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."

Sources used

Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives. All rights reserved.

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related places