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Caroline B. Thomas was born in Ithaca, New York. She received her B.A. in 1925 from Smith College, then did graduate work in general physiology and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University under Herbert S. Jennings in the department of biology. Eventually, she entered the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, receiving her M.D. in 1930. Thomas conducted research in electrocardiography at the school of medicine during her residency at the hospital from 1931 until 1933, when she was named a National Research Council fellow in medicine and a fellow in neuropathology at Harvard University. She returned to Johns Hopkins in 1934 as a fellow in physiology, and in 1935 she joined the faculty of the school of medicine. She was appointed associate professor in 1952 and professor emeritus in 1970. Thomas held a variety of staff appointments at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and also served on the faculty of the school of hygiene and public health. In 1946, she began a long-term study entitled “The Precursors of Essential Hypertension and Coronary Artery Disease.” The subjects enrolled in the study when they were Johns Hopkins medical students and were regularly followed throughout their lives. Thomas published several books from this study, showing the influence of personality and daily habits as factors in the prediction of heart disease, suicide, cancer, and longevity

Scope and Content

The Caroline B. Thomas Collection spans her entire career at Johns Hopkins. Included are materials related to the Precursors Study and to women’s groups at Johns Hopkins, as well as manuscripts, personal papers, patient records, and other items. The Precursors Study materials include correspondence, grant applications, administrative records, and budget accounts. There are also records of her investigations into the use of sulfonamide as a prophylaxis for rheumatic fever. Patient-related materials include records from the Adult Cardiac Clinic (1935-1940). Records of the Women’s Medical Alumnae Association of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine include a survey of women graduates of the school of medicine. There are early records of the Women’s Advisory Committee and material pertaining to the Mary Elizabeth Garrett Room and to The Mary Elizabeth Garrett Symposium: Women Physicians in Contemporary Society, held at Johns Hopkins in 1979. In addition, the collection contains conference materials and documentation of Thomas’s work with the Council on High Blood Pressure Research of the American Heart Association. There are also two volumes of transcribed letters exchanged between Thomas and her husband, Dr. Henry M. Thomas, Jr., while he served overseas during World War II, as well as papers relating to Thomas’ honors and awards.

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