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William B. Kouwenhoven was born in Brooklyn, New York. He received his E.E. in 1906 and his M.E. in 1907, both from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and his doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Karlsruhe Technische Hochscule in Baden, Germany. He joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering in 1914, serving as dean of the school from 1938 until 1954. His research in electric shock and his study of the effects of electricity on the heart led to development of the closed chest electrical defibrillator and the technique of external cardiac massage. After his retirement from the school of engineering, Kouwenhoven was a lecturer at the school of medicine. In 1969, he received the first honorary degree ever conferred by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Scope and Content

The William B. Kouwenhoven Collection covers his years as a researcher and administrator at the Johns Hopkins University. Series include correspondence, meeting files, subject files, research notes, and records of electric shock experiments. Much of the collection consists of charts and graphs of research data from animal experiments from 1950 to 1970. A bound edition of Kouwenhoven’s collected articles from 1965 to 1972 is also included. A related group of Kouwenhoven’s papers were housed at Special Collections, The Milton S. Eisenhower Library and are now located at the Chesney Medical Archives.

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