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John C. Whitehorn was born in Spencer, Nebraska. He received his A.B. in 1916 from Doane College and his M.D. in 1921 from Harvard University. For the next 17 years, Whitehorn was engaged in biochemical and physiological research at McLean Hospital in Waverly, Massachusetts. From 1935 until 1938, he served as a research fellow in psychiatry and then as an associate psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Whitehorn also served as instructor in psychiatry at Harvard University and as special instructor in social psychiatry at Simmons College from 1936 until 1938. From 1938 until 1941, Whitehorn held positions in St. Louis as professor of psychiatry at Washington University Medical School and as psychiatrist-in-chief at Barnes Hospital and Associated Hospitals. In 1941, he was recruited by Johns Hopkins and was appointed Henry Phipps Professor of Psychiatry and psychiatrist-in-chief. He held these posts until his retirement in 1960. After retiring he served on the Maryland State Board of Health and Hygiene, becoming chairman in 1967. Whitehorn worked to elevate the regard for psychiatry in medical schools, in private agencies, and among the public at large and was a strong advocate for mentally ill patients. His professional interests were in the area of patient and physician interaction, and he devoted studies to the nature of human communication, improvement of the psychiatric interview, and the function of empathy.

Scope and Content

The John C. Whitehorn Collection spans his entire career at Johns Hopkins. It consists of biographical material, professional correspondence, and committee records, as well as records of the department of psychiatry and records of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic which pertain to facilities, funds, personnel, and programs. The collection also documents Whitehorn’s work as a member (and later chairman) of the State of Maryland Mental Hygiene Advisory Board from 1947 to 1960. There are numerous records regarding a funded research project conducted with Barbara Betz (1943-1960). In addition, there are materials relating to curricula and a collection of typed transcripts (approximately 200 pages) of Whitehorn’s lectures for the first year course in medical psychology, from February to March of 1956. This includes a transcript of one lecture given by Adolf Meyer. Correspondence with the governor and other state officials, minutes, agendas, and various personal notes are also included.

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