Name and location of repository
Level of description
Bernard Becker Oral History
- 10/19/1990 (Creation)
- 1990 (Creation)
0.05 Linear Feet
Name of creator
Bernard Becker was born in New York City in 1920. He graduated from Princeton University in 1941 and from Harvard Medical School in 1944. After an internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps before completing his training in ophthalmology at the Wilmer Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He then briefly served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins before coming to Washington University, where he served as Head of the Ophthalmology Department from 1953 until 1988.
Dr. Becker dedicated his research and clinical practice to glaucoma, and he was instrumental in establishing the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the world's leading organization for ophthalmology research. He served as president of that group and also as director of the American Board of Ophthalmology. In addition, he was a founding member of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology, and played a vital role in establishing the National Eye Institute, where he served in many leadership positions.
Dr. Becker chaired the committee that oversaw design and construction of the Washington University Medical Library, which was completed in 1989. The building was renamed the Bernard Becker Medical Library in his honor in 1995. Dr. Becker was also an avid book collector who accumulated over 600 volumes of rare medical books on the sciences of the eye and light. He generously gave his collection to the medical school, where they are housed in the Archives and Rare Books Department of the Becker Library. The Bernard Becker Collection in Ophthalmology and Optics span some five hundred years and include works such as Georg Bartisch's 16th century monograph Opthalmodouleia, which was the first comprehensive work on eye diseases and their treatments; two incunabula (books printed prior to 1500), and works by key scientific figures such as Antonio Scarpa and Francesco Redi.
Name of creator
Scope and content
Transcript of 3 interviews with Bernard Becker conducted in the fall of 1990. In the first interview Becker describes his early years and education. He discusses his undergraduate studies at Princeton University and his mentor there, H. S. Taylor; his graduate studies at Harvard Medical School during World War II and his military service as a psychiatrist; and his post-war residency training and research with Jonas Friedenwald at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. In the second interview Becker describes the challenges of balancing clinical work, research, and administration as head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Washington University School of Medicine from 1953 to 1988. Becker discusses the expansion of the Department of Ophthalmology, his research in the causes and control of glaucoma, and his efforts to integrate the university’s affiliated hospitals. In the third interview, Becker describes the changes in academic medicine and research from the 1950s to the 1980s. He discusses some of the efforts leading to the establishment of the National Eye Institute in 1968, and his work to fund and construct a new medical library at Washington University. Following the 3rd interview is Dr. Becker's summary of his career. Interviewed by Marion Hunt on October 19, 1990; November 2, 1990, and unknown date [Fall 1990]. OH061. Approximate Length 30 leaves.
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.
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Oral history interview: http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/oral/interviews/becker.html
Rules or conventions
"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."
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