Name and location of repository
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Samuel B. Guze Oral History (OH102)
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Name of creator
Samuel B. Guze was born in New York City in 1923. He completed his undergraduate coursework at the City College of New York, and later attended Washington University School of Medicine, receiving his medical degree in 1945. Dr. Guze began his career at Washington University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine in 1953. In 1955, he also became an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Guze is best remembered as one of the founding fathers of the scientific approach to psychiatry. In the 1950s he propagated the view that psychiatric illness should be diagnosed just as any other physical illness through the use of a scientific model and a biological approach.
Guze's work also spawned great interest in the genetics of psychiatric disorders. He was among the first psychiatrists to use the study of twins as a way to investigate the role of heredity in mental illness. He and his colleagues produced key findings about genetic vulnerability to alcoholism and to other conditions such as schizophrenia and affective disorders. His research brought widespread recognition of the important role epidemiologic studies should play in psychiatric research. His views found general acceptance in 1980, when he helped to compile the American Psychiatric Association's standard DSM-III, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Guze is also recognized for the leadership abilities he demonstrated while holding several important administrative positions at Washington University. He served as the Assistant to the Dean from 1965 to 1971. He was appointed Vice Chancellor and President of the Washington University Medical Center in 1971, a position he held until 1989. Guze presided over the school during a time of rapid expansion and changes in medical care and research. Additionally, he was head of the Department of Psychiatry from 1975 to 1989, and again from 1993 to 1997. In all, he served on the faculty for almost 50 years. Guze passed away on July 19, 2000.
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Scope and content
An interview of the Washington University Medical Center Desegregation History Project, conducted by Edwin W. McCleskey and associates, 1990. Approximate Length: 49 minutes. Interviewers, Bill Geideman and James Carter.
Guze discusses his experience with segregation and desegregation of Barnes Hospital, Renard Hospital, its psychiatric service and unit. He guessed the psychiatric service desegregated the Barnes Hospital psychiatric unit in October 1953.
He and the interviewers had a clearer timeline for desegregation of admission of medical students to the Washington University School of Medicine. He said the executive faculty gave the admissions committee discretion in flexible criteria for admission for those with disadvantaged educational background. Roy Vagelos of Biochemistry was a key player on the Executive Faculty along with John Herweg, who headed the admissions committee starting in the early 1960s. Guze recalled that the first African American medical student (1953?) had difficulty and the second had no difficulty, but the executive faculty wanted more African Americans admitted and numbers did not start to go up significantly until about 1968. This was due to the hiring of Bob Lee, Dean of Minority Affairs, whose sole responsibility at first was minority students.
Guze discusses the parallel but related desegregation of the St. Louis City Hospital and health care systems. He notes that the segregated city healthcare system included two large general hospitals, Homer G. Phillips (St. Louis City Hospital no. 2) built in 1937 on the north side for African-Americans and older St. Louis City Hospital (no. 1 or Max Starkloff) for whites on the south side. He said there was one psychiatric unit at the Malcolm Bliss Center for whites and a separate psychiatric unit for blacks run by black psychiatrists at Homer G. Phillips Hospital. And he recalled that there was a long-standing formal teaching arrangement with 'Max Starkloff or St. Louis City Hospital no. 1 in several services on the south side including psychiatry, medicine, surgery, infectious disease unit, laboratory and isolation unit. But he noted the teaching arrangement with Homer G. Phillips Hospital was less complete and depended on personal relationships in each Service. For example the teaching arrangement with the Surgery Service at Homer G. Phillips was more complete because of the efforts of Robert Elman of the Surgery Department at Washington University School of Medicine to have regular teaching rounds at Homer G. Phillips. Guze notes that desegregation of both facilities led the city to evaluate whether the city needed two large general hospital complexes. A group of black physicians approached Guze in the 1970s about an affiliation, but Guze insisted on conditions that Homer G. Phillips was not prepared to meet then including the right to appoint medical staff.
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Item description, Reference Code, Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis.
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"Describing Archives: A Content Standard, Second Edition (DACS), 2013."
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Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Barnes Hospital (Saint Louis, Mo.) (Subject)
- Renard Hospital (Subject)
- Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine (Subject)
- Washington University School of Medicine (Subject)
- Homer G. Phillips Hospital (Subject)
- Psychiatric Service, Barnes Hospital (Saint Louis, Mo.) (Subject)
- Vagelos, P. Roy (Subject)
- Lee, Robert (Subject)
- Elman, Robert (Subject)