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Adolf Meyer was born in Niederweningen, Switzerland. He received his medical degree from the University of Zurich in 1892. Coming to the United States in 1892, Meyer held positions at the University of Chicago, Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane, Worcester Insane Hospital, Clark University, Pathological Institute of New York State Hospitals, and Cornell University before his appointment as professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1908. He was named psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1909.

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At Johns Hopkins, Meyer directed the development of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, which opened in 1913. In designing the program for this clinic, Meyer integrated functions of teaching, research, and patient care. At the Phipps Clinic, Meyer trained two generations of psychiatrists, elevated modes of diagnosis and treatment, and conducted extensive research in neuroanatomy, neuropathology, and psychiatry. His major contributions include propounding the doctrine of psychobiology, standardizing case histories, reforming state insane asylums, and co-founding the mental hygiene movement.

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Scope and Content

The Adolf Meyer Collection spans his entire career. Series include personal and professional correspondence, family correspondence, copy books, biographical material, published and unpublished articles, photographs, diplomas, licenses, and honorary degrees. Much of the professional correspondence is with prominent individuals in early twentieth-century psychiatry. Scientific notes and records pertain to Meyer’s research and teaching, and are categorized according to his place of residence: Chicago (1892-1893), Kankakee (1893-1895), Worcester (1895-1902), New York (1902-1909), and Baltimore (1910-1941). Other materials include teaching manuals, patient records, and institutional records, the majority of these dating from his years as Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. The professional materials are complemented by a rich family correspondence that begins in his youth as well as by diaries and other biographical items. Many documents are in German. The collection is among the largest of its kind in the United States and constitutes a major resource for the study of twentieth-century American psychiatry and related fields.

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