Name and location of repository
Level of description
William M. Landau Oral History (OH107)
- June 15, 1990 (Creation)
0.50 Linear Feet
Name of creator
William M. Landau was born just a few blocks from Washington University in 1924. He started college at the University of Chicago in 1941, but the United States' entry into World War II accelerated his college career, and after just two years, he returned to St. Louis to begin medical studies at Washington University School of Medicine. He was 18. Landau completed medical school in 1947 and joined the neurology faculty in 1954. He was named professor emeritus 58 years later and continued conducting research into his 90s.
Landau was a professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis from 1954 to 2012 and served as head of the Department of Neurology from 1970 to 1991. He was the longest-serving faculty member at the School of Medicine. Landau specialized in movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, but his interests ranged widely. With Frank Kleffner, PhD, of the Central Institute of the Deaf, he identified and described Landau-Kleffner syndrome, a rare disorder in which children lose the ability to speak and respond to language. He also studied how patients fared who were revived with CPR after their hearts had stopped beating, and concluded that the risk of severe, debilitating brain damage was underappreciated. He advocated for more limited use of the procedure.
Scope and content
An interview of the Washington University Medical Center Desegregation History Project, conducted by Edwin W. McCleskey, James Carter, and William Guideman, 1990. Approximate Length: 67 minutes. See also the William M. Landau Papers (FC119).
Landau discusses his experience with segregation in St. Louis as a child and as medical student, house officer, and resident at Barnes Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine as background to the desegregation of hospitals and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He recalls the desegregation of Barnes Hospital was set in motion by David Goldring, Alexis Hartman Sr. and ? Park White trained African American pediatricians through his world class pediatric residency program at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in the 1940s. Park White also fought get black kids into St. Louis Children's Hospital and his own African American residents as medical staff. Landau recalls the first black medical student's admission in 1951 and his failure due in part to poor preparation but more significantly to a hostile environment. George Saslow, a psychiatrist and head of the outpatient clinic, was key in building a better environment for subsequent black applicants and students.
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