McMillan Hospital and Oscar Johnson Institute Records


Reference code


Level of description



McMillan Hospital and Oscar Johnson Institute Records


  • 1930-1951 (Creation)


6.9 cubic feet (8 boxes, 16 volumes)

Name of creator


Administrative history

In 1930, the McMillan Hospital and Oscar Johnson Institute were opened, both of which were housed within a single 11-story building which came to be known generally as the “McMillan Building”. The bottom six floors were designed to include ophthalmology clinics and eye research laboratories for treatment of patients with diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. These facilities were co-managed by Barnes Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine. The Oscar Johnson Institute, located on the top five floors of the building, housed offices and laboratories for use of researchers working in areas of otolaryngology and ophthalmology.

The construction of the McMillan Building was made possible by multiple donors, including private benefactors, federal grants, and donations from the General Education Board. The most prominent donation was from Eliza McMillan, widow to William McMillan, who was the founder of the American Car and Foundry Company. Through a stipulation in her will, Mrs. McMillan donated a total of $1.2 million in 1915 to Washington University. Mrs. McMillan had previously donated $300,000 for the creation of McMillan Hall, currently located on the university's present-day Danforth Campus, which served as the first female dormitory at Washington University.

In addition to the funding provided by the estate of Eliza McMillan, the family of Oscar Johnson, founder of the International Shoe Company, donated a total of $530,000 for the creation of the Oscar Johnson Institute. The larger $500,000 portion came as a “Christmas Gift” to Washington University, and was added to the growing fund for construction of the McMillan Building. As of 1928, the fund contained about $4 million.

The McMillan Hospital building, though externally completed in 1930, was rather unfinished until years later. Architects Jamieson and Spearl were the initial designers of the space. The lower floors of the building, housing the McMillan Hospital, were characterized by unfinished concrete floors until 1943, when they were finally completed. Because of the economic instability of the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, the McMillan Hospital was not only used for otolaryngology and ophthalmology patients, but also for other treatments, namely psychiatry. The initial building contained 150 total beds, split evenly between the otolaryngology and ophthalmology departments, with an additional eight beds added in 1964 as an Intensive Care Unit for neck and throat patients. In a 1930 description, three separate floors were highlighted as being private, semi-private, and for “colored patients,” respectively.

The departments of otolaryngology and ophthalmology were formally reorganized in 1929 before the completion of the McMillan Hospital building. The first reorganized otolaryngology department was headed by Dr. Lee W. Dean and the ophthalmology department by Dr. Harvey J. Howard.

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Oscar Johnson Institute at Washington University School of Medicine was established to further research by the departments of Ophthalmology and Otolargyngology

Scope and content

Please note that this finding aid is not complete. The record group includes correspondence, financial records, document, and minutes of meetings.

System of arrangement

The 3.5 feet originally received was organized in 3 series: 1. correspondence, financial data, and minutes of the Board of Directors, 1928-1939. 2. Construction Contracts, 1943-1944. 3. Eight admissions ledgers [closed to the public].

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

Becker Library copy:This record group consists of transfers of the Office of the Registrar, WUSM, and Olin Library Archives.

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.

Place access points

Genre access points

Accession area