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Russell A. Nelson was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He received his A.B. in 1933 from the University of Minnesota and his M.D. in 1937 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After completing an internship and residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Nelson joined the staff of the hospital as a physician and eventually became director of medical clinics and assistant director of the hospital. He was appointed associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1947.

In 1952, he was named director of the hospital; in 1958, executive vice president and director; and in 1963, president of the hospital. Nelson retired from the presidency in 1972 and was named president emeritus. Under his leadership the Johns Hopkins Hospital greatly expanded its facilities, services, and financial structure to accomodate prepaid comprehensive health programs. Nelson also served as a consultant to medical schools and hospitals in Europe and consulted frequently on other national, state and local health care projects.

Scope and Content

The Russell A. Nelson Collection focuses on his leadership of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. It includes correspondence, administrative records, committee files, reports, patient records, speeches, awards, reprints, historical material about the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and material relating to the Johns Hopkins 118th General Hospital (World War II unit). Administrative records include planning documents for the Children’s Medical and Surgical Center. Historical materials include biographical sketches of Johns Hopkins physicians and a transcript of an oral history interview (1986) with Nelson.

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