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Guide to the Hans Horst Meyer papers, 1831-1943, 2004 and undated

Summary

Hans Horst Meyer was a pharmacologist and scientist on the faculty of the University of Vienna in the early 20th century. The papers are mostly in German, and consist of Meyer's professional correspondence; diplomas and awards; a few professional writings; an autograph book with signatures and correspondence of notable scientists and others; genealogical papers relating to his attempts in the late 1930s to document his family's ancestry; several volumes, including a family Bible and a diary of his son Arthur's first six years of life; and professional and personal photographs. There are two photographs of neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing (Boston), inscribed to Meyer (1914 and 1929), and a sketch by Cushing. There are a few letters from family members, one of which describes in detail the correspondent's experience in Poland during the invasion of that country by the Germans, and his or her return to Germany. An addition to the collection consists of a few letters, photographs, negatives, and other memorabilia relating to Meyer's son, Arthur W. Meyer, personal physician to Boris III, King of Bulgaria, and Arthur's son Horst, who became a physicist at Duke University. The Hans Horst Meyer papers form part of the History of Medicine Collections at Duke University.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.00894
Title
Hans Horst Meyer papers
Date
1831-1943, 2004 and undated
Creator
Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939
Extent
8 Linear Feet, 10 boxes, Approximately 201 items
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Material chiefly in German, with some in French and English.

Collection Overview

The papers, mostly in German, document pharmacologist and scientist Hans Horst Meyer's career and personal life, and consist of personal and professional correspondence; written pieces; genealogical documents; diplomas, medals, and awards; a Bible and other assorted volumes; professional and personal photographs; and an autograph album.

The certificates and medals were received by Meyer between 1901 and 1937, and come from a variety of international scientific organizations, such as the New York Academy of Medicine, the Royal Society of Physicians in Budapest, and the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences. Meyer also received the German Order of the Red Eagle and honorary citizenship of the city of Vienna. Also included is a small group of letters and printed materials relating to honors received by Meyer, as well as a reprint of Meyer's chapter in the Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie.

Of note are two portrait photographs of pioneer neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing (1914 and 1929), both inscribed to Hans Horst Meyer, and a warm letter from Cushing to Meyer's son Arthur, a physician. A sketch of a spongioblast, attributed to Cushing, rounds out this group.

The personal papers include a group of official documents, identity and voting cards, and correspondence with parishes and German officials, attesting to Meyer's efforts from about 1938 to 1939 to document his family's religious heritage and obtain a new German identity card, possibly in order to leave the country. Meyer died in Vienna in 1939 while his application was still under review. Also among the personal papers are a few letters from family members, one of which, dated October 6, 1939, describes in detail the correspondent's experience in Poland during the invasion of that country by the Germans, and his or her return to Germany.

Meyer's personal papers are accompanied by a German bible, a volume of poetry and quotations, and a journal in which Meyer recorded his son Arthur's first six years of life. There are also photographs of Hans Horst Meyer with various family members: his wife Doris, shortly after marriage, his sons Arthur and Kurt, his daughter-in-law Lotte, and grandchildren.

The autograph album contains 147 autographs and letters of well-known and lesser-known Germans, most of whom lived in the 19th century. Included are a letter each from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, and Clara Schumann, a postcard from Johannes Brahms, and the autographs of many individuals, including Henrik Ibsen and Charles Dickens.

An addition to the collection consists of personal memorabilia, including photographs, glass slides, and a few letters, relating to Hans Horst Meyer's son Arthur, and his close relationship as personal physician to Boris III, King of Bulgaria, until Arthur's suicide in 1933. The letters are addressed to (Johannes) Horst Meyer, Arthur's small son, who eventually became a physicist, emigrated to the U.S., and joined the faculty of Duke University.

With the exception of the autograph album, originally in the holdings of the Rubenstein Library general collections, the Meyer papers were acquired as part of the History of Medicine Collections at Duke University.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Hans Horst Meyer papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Photographs, after 1879-1930s, 2004 and undated

2 boxes

Black-and-white photographs of Hans Horst Meyer in Vienna and Berlin, and of his family and colleagues, including two signed photographs of Harvey Cushing. Also includes a photograph of the presentation of a portrait of Meyer to Duke University by his grandson, Horst Meyer, circa 2004. Items are arranged in chronological order. Other photographs of Meyer's son, Arthur, and grandson Horst can be found in the series containing Dr. Arthur Meyer's memorabilia.

Meyer as a young man, after 1879; Meyer and his sons, Arthur W. and Kurt H. in World War I uniforms, 1914; Meyer with hat, circa 1930 (3 items matted together)
Box 1
Mounted photograph of Hans Horst and Doris Meyer, circa 1890
Box 8
Harvey Cushing portrait, inscribed to Meyer, 1914 (matted print)

Cushing is posed while drawing with a pen.

Box 2
Early photograph of Meyer and associates in Vienna, circa 1914
(Matted. Photograph measures 8 1/8 x 11 1/4 inches.)
Box 1
Hand-drawn sketch of spongioblast by Harvey Cushing, and two photographs of Meyer with Cushing, late 1920s (3 items matted together)
Box 1
Meyer and associates, Vienna, July 1924 (matted print)
Box 1
Harvey Cushing photographic portrait, inscribed to Meyer "with admiration and affection," 1929 August 22 (matted print)
Box 1
Portrait photograph of Meyer, 1920s (matted print)
Box 2
Meyer at his desk, 1930s (matted print)
Box 2
Meyer with daughter-in-law, Lotte Meyer, and grandson, Horst Meyer, circa 1926, in Berlin; Meyer with grandson, Horst Meyer, in Vienna, 1931; Meyer with grandson, Horst Meyer, in Vienna, 1935 (3 items matted together)
Box 1
Meyer at his desk, 1930s (small modern copy print)
Box 8
Presentation by J. Horst Meyer of portrait of Hans Horst Meyer [by Rietti, 1911] to Duke University, circa 2004 (small modern print)
Box 8

2. Memorabilia, 1800s-1937 and undated

5 boxes

Diplomas, certificates, and medals conferring honorary membership and other honors on Meyer from a variety of international scientific organizations and institutes. Completing the series is an autograph album containing 147 autographs and letters of well-known and lesser-known Germans, most of whom lived in the 19th century. Included are a letter each from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, and Clara Schumann, a postcard from Johannes Brahms, and the autographs of many individuals, including, Henrik Ibsen and Charles Dickens. Subgroupings are arranged in chronological order.

Rothen Adler-Orden vierter Klasse, 1901
Box 3
Royal Society of Physicians, Budapest, 1905
Box 3
Physikalisch-medizinische Sozietät zu Erlangen, 1908
Box 4
Kaiserliche Leopoldinische-Carolinische Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, 1911
Box 4
University of St. Andrews, 1913
Box 4
Gesellschaft der Aertze in Wien, 1923
Box 4
Accademia Medico-Fisica Fiorentina, 1924
Box 4
Kaiserliche Deutsche Academie der Naturforscher zu Halle, 1925
Box 4
Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, 1931
Box 4
Honorary Citizenship, City of Vienna, 1932
Box 5
Verein für Psychiatrie und Neurologie in Wien, 1932
Box 3
Deutsche Pharmakologische Gesellschaft, 1933
Box 3
Akademie der Wissenschaftern, 1933
Box 5
La Academia Nacional de Medicina, 1934
Box 4
New York Academy of Medicine, 1936
Box 3
University of Vienna, Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology, 1937
Box 5
Royal Order of the Vasa, Sweden, late 19th century
Box 6
Commemorative bronze medal in honor of Prof. Hans Horst Meyer's 70th Birthday, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1923
Box 6
Minerva Medal awarded by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science
Box 6

3. Papers, 1869-1939 and undated

2 boxes

Correspondence and printed material relating to the honors received by Meyer, as well as a reprint of Meyer's chapter in the Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie. Also includes 49 manuscript and printed items related to Hans Horst Meyer's professional career, and his search for his family's religious origins in light of events unfolding in Nazi Germany. The latter group consists of: letters of inquiry, responses from offices, and genealogical documents listing his parents and grandparents and their religious status as Lutherans; a few pieces of personal and professional correspondence from the 1930s; and official documents pertaining to Meyer's own status and applications for an identity card. This group also includes a series of small photographs - head shots of Meyer taken for travel documents - and an undated carte-de-visite of Meyer and probably his wife, Doris, probably from the 1890s. The professional correspondence chiefly relates to congratulations or announcements of awards and honorary degrees. Almost all the documents are in German. The papers are arranged in chronological order.

Certificate of confirmation (Protestant church), Konigsberg/Kaliningrad, 1869 June 3
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from medical school about passing the "tentamen physicum, 1872 March 13
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from registrar’s office in Wiesbaden about death of Ernst Rudolph Heinrich Meyer, private copy (”private Abschrift”), 1897 July 10
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the Viennese Financial Department (“Landeshauptkasse”) for funds to be paid to Meyer for expenses related to his new position at the University in Vienna, 1904 December 6
Box 8
Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, 1905
Box 3
Certificate of discharge from Prussian citizenship for Meyer, 1904 November 11
Box 8
Letter to Kurt from Lore, 1908 March 9
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from Lower Austrian government office (“Niederösterreichische Statthalterei”) about salary raise, Vienna, 1910 October 28
Box 8
University of St. Andrews, 1913
Box 3
Letter to Meyer from the Austrian Ministry of War in appreciation of Meyer’s research on quinine and its significance for military medical service, Vienna, 1918 June 10
Box 8
Draft of thank-you note on back of envelope, to colleagues of medical school, circa 1918
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the Danish Society of the Sciences announcing his acceptance as foreign member of the Society, Copenhagen, 1920 April 10; includes Meyer’s reply at bottom, Vienna, 1920 April 20
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the Prussian Academy of the Sciences informing Meyer of his acceptance as a member, Berlin, 1920 October 20
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the University of Königsberg medical school congratulating him on his 70th birthday, Königsberg/Kaliningrad, 1923 March 12
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the University of Edinburgh about Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, Edinburgh, 1923 July 20
Box 8
Diploma of Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, University of Edinburgh, 1923 July 20
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from University in Vienna about his retirement, 1924 September 18
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the University in Vienna about his retirement and pension, 1924 September 25
Box 8
Kaiserliche Deutsche Academie der Naturforscher zu Halle, 1925
Box 3
Letter to Meyer from the Society of Physicians in Vienna informing him about his honorary membership, with Meyer's reply on back, 1926 February 27
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the Academy of Sciences about nominating recipients for the “Hans Horst Meyer Medaille," Vienna, 1928 February 10
Box 8
Letter to Dr. Arthur Meyer from Harvey Cushing, 1928 February 17 (matted)

Warm and humorous letter to Arthur Meyer from Dr. Cushing, who regrets that Arthur did not train for his medical career in the United States.

Box 1
Letter to Meyer from J.A. Gunn, British Pharmacological Society, Oxford, England, 1932 August 7 (matted together with note from M. MacKeith)
Box 1
Note to Meyer from H. MacKeith, Oxford, referring to letter from Gunn, 1932 September 12 (matted together with letter from Gunn)
Box 1
Verein für Psychiatrie und Neurologie in Wien, 1932
Box 3
Letter to Meyer from Prof. Dr. A. Bethe congratulating him on his 80th birthday, Frankfurt am Main, 1933 March 16
Box 8
Article on Meyer from “Medizinische Klinik. Wochenschrift für pratksiche Ärzte,”(1933) by Alfred Fröhlich, in celebration of Meyer's 80th birthday, 1933
Box 8
Academia Nacional de Medicina, 1935
Box 3
Hans Horst Meyer, Wesen und Sinn der experimentellen Pharmakologie, Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie, edited by W. Heubner and J. Schüller, Bd. 1 (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1935), 1-10
Box 2
Meyer’s Austrian identification card with photograph, 1936 February 2
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from University of Vienna, asking him to report all military and academic awards, includes Meyer's reply on back, 1936 July 18
Box 8
Guidelines for submission of proof of descent by the Office for Genealogical Research, after 1937
Box 8
Article by Leopold Arzt about Hans Horst Meyer, from “Klinische Wochenschrift” on the occasion of Meyer’s honorary degree in medicine, 1937
Box 8
Meyer’s voter identification card for elections to “Großdeutschen Reichstag,” stamped “abgestimmt” (voted), 1938 April 10
Box 8
Copy of marriage license of Meyer’s parents, from Insterburg, Geneva Canton, 1938 April 22
Box 8
Report from the church registrar’s office in Königsberg/Kaliningrad about lack of documentation on Meyer's mother, 1938 September 9
Box 8
Letter from Meyer to the Office for Genealogical Research, in reply to inquiry about his family's origins, denying Jewish descent, Vienna, 1938 December 5
Box 8
Letter to “Schwager [brother-in-law] Hans” from Julius, Königsberg/Kaliningrad, 1938 December 26
Box 8
Half-sheet letter from Meyer to the pastoral office in Breslau/Wroclaw about documentation of marriage of Rudolf Meyer and Marianne Eiselen, Vienna, 1938 December 6
Box 8
Proof of descent (“kleiner Abstammungsnachweis”) document listing Meyer’s parents and grandparent as Lutherans; no official seals or signatures, two copies, circa 1938
Box 8
Application for identification card, unstamped, with six small photographs of Hans Horst Meyer, Vienna, 1938 December 30
Box 8
Letter from Meyer to unidentified individual concerning genealogical documentation about his parents, Vienna, 1939 January (?) 19
Box 8
Letter from the Office for Descent (“Reichsstelle für Sippenforschung”) notifying Meyer that his proof of descent is being processed, Berlin, 1939 January 26
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from archive in Tartu, Estonia, with copy and translation of Lutheran baptismal certificate of Otto Heinrich Kurt Meyer, Tartu, 1939 February 2
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from pastoral office notifying him that his genealogical inquiry was unsuccessful and that it has been forwarded to other offices, Breslau/Wroclaw, 1939 March 4
Box 8
Receipt from Office for Genealogical Research recording payment for processing HHM’s proof of descent and acquiring missing documentation, Vienna, 1939 March 10
Box 8
Letter to Meyer from the Health Insurance Office, Vienna, about registering a Julie Mertlik; includes his reply on back, Vienna, 1939 April 14
Box 8
Letter to Meyer (“Onkel Hans”) from an unidentified individual about the invasion of Poland, and his or her return from Poland into Germany, 2 pages, Soldau, 1939 October 2
Box 8
Newspaper clipping about Office for Genealogical Research, late 1930s
Box 8
Empty envelopes, some addressed to Hans Horst Meyer
Box 8
New Testament, German, 1831

Inscribed as a present to Ernst Rudolph Heinrich Meyer from Meichen on December 9th, 1836. Endpaper contains handwritten lists of birth and death dates for various individuals.

Box 8
Manuscript volume with quotes from German poetry, 1897

Volume contains handwritten quotations for each day of a year, and carries an inscription that appears to be from Doris Meyer, Hans Horst Meyer's wife, to a female friend.

Box 8
Hans Horst Meyer's journal on the childhood of his son Arthur, 1895-1891

Journal begins with the birth of Arthur Meyer and chronicles childhood milestones, activities, health, and the beginnings of his education. The journal ends in 1891, when Arthur is six.

Box 8
Autograph book, 1800s
Box 7

5. Dr. Arthur Meyer memorabilia relating to Czar Boris III of Bulgaria, 1917-1943

30 items, 1 flat box

This collection of letters, memorabilia, and ephemera tell of the close relationship between Arthur Woldemar Meyer, Hans Horst Meyer's son, and Boris III, Czar of Bulgaria. Arthur Meyer was the royal family's personal physician. Meyer committed double suicide with his wife in 1933 after he and his family were accused of Jewish ancestry. Boris III died suddenly in 1943.

The items in the collection include two affectionate letters written by Boris III to Horst Meyer, Arthur Meyer's young son; photographs of Boris III and his family and household, including Arthur Meyer, and government officials; paper ephemera, chiefly state dinner seating lists with Arthur's name included; pieces of jewelry with royal monograms and related symbols, and a pocket watch; and a set of positive black-and-white stereoscopic slides (45x107 mm) with their original viewer and copy negatives. The images are chiefly of Boris and his household; a few are of Hans Horst Meyer with a child, probably his grandson Horst Meyer.

Two letters written to Horst Meyer by Boris III, 1939 August, 1943 April
Box 9
Folder 1
Five black-and-white photographs of Boris III, wife and children, with captions and signatures by Boris III, 1922, 1937-1939

Three of the five are small formal portraits of Boris III and his family; a fourth shows Boris III reading speech in front of decorated locomotive; and the fifth shows Boris III with his wife and another woman kneeling on the ground and holding flowers "after visiting several villages."

Box 9
Folder 2
Two 5x5 and 5x4.5 inch black-and-white photographs of Boris III with Arthur Meyer and other officials, 1928
Box 9
Folder 3
Two 7x9 inch black-and-white photographs: portrait of Arthur Meyer at his desk with portrait of his father, Hans Horst Meyer, on wall, circa 1918; Boris III posing with Arthur Meyer and two slain deer, signed by Boris III, 1932
Box 9
Folder 3
Seven black-and-white stereoscopic copy negatives, 1920s-1930s

Copy negatives made from glass plate slides, probably nitrate film, 45x107 size. A few appear to be unique images not found among the slides in the collection.

Box 9
Folder 3
Printed ephemera: list of retinue of Boris III, dinner seating lists, and invitations, all with Arthur Meyer's name, 1917-1918 and undated
(8 items)
Box 9
Folder 4
Article in French by artist Robert Hainard about his 1938 visit with Boris III, page from news magazine, probably 1942 (repatriation of French POWs photo essay on back)
Box 9
Folder 4
Collection of pins, a medallion, and watch with royal monograms, circa 1910s-1930s
(10 items, Item count Includes cloth bag., Inventory: One gold ring with single emerald and diamonds; one jeweled pin with monogrammed "M" (Maria-Luisa?); one jeweled stickpin with "F monogram (Ferdinand?); one stickpin with emerald; one stickpin in shape of snake with pearl; one small enameled and jeweled medallion with monogram of Boris III; two jeweled cufflinks with crown and C-shape; and one gold Movado pocket watch and chronometer with monogram of Boris III in cloth Movado bag.)
Box 10
Set of 15 stereoscopic black-and-white diapositive slides with wooden box viewer, bearing images of Boris III, family, and retinue, and portraits of Hans Horst Meyer with grandson (Horst?), 1920s-1930s

Glass slides are in popular 45x107 mm size; the photographer is unknown. Images show Boris III riding in car with driver; a picnic party with Boris III and family; portraits of Boris III and family members; and a series of portraits of Hans Horst Meyer, circa 1935, seated, with grandson Horst?

Box 10
 

Historical Note

Hans Horst Meyer holds a prominent place at the historical intersection of pharmacology and anesthesia. His greatest achievement was in the formulation of the lipoid theory of narcosis which still stands today largely unchallenged. Published in 1899, Meyer's classic paper proposed that the ability of a substance to produce narcosis or anesthesia is governed by its partition coefficient. He shares the honor as the cofounder of this theory with Charles Overton who independently arrived at the same conclusion at the same time although indirectly through a study of permeability of plant and animal cells to various substances. The Meyer-Overton theory stimulated decades of research to answer important questions of exactly how certain drugs can act to produce a state of anesthesia. [Taken from Trent Associates Report 12, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2004): 1-2]

Meyer was born in Insterburg, East Prussia (now part of Russia), and studied medicine in Königsberg, Leipzig, and Berlin. He held the chair of pharmacology at the University of Marburg from 1884 to 1904, and was then professor at the Vienna Medical School from 1904 to 1924, when he retired. Meyer died in Vienna in October, 1939.

Meyer had three sons, Kurt Heinrich, Arthur Woldemar, and Friedrich Horst, who died as a child. In 1933, Arthur Meyer shot his wife, then committed suicide, following the family's persecution following accusations of Jewish ancestry. Arthur Meyer's son, Horst Meyer, was adopted by his uncle Kurt, and was a professor of physics at Duke University from 1959 to 2004. [Source: Wikipedia, June 2014.]


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Provenance

The Hans Horst Meyer papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1998, 2013, and 2015, and as a transfer in 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Willeke Sandler, April 2012

Addition 2013-0146 processed and encoded by Sandra Neithardt and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, September 2015.

Addition 2015-0139 processed and encoded by Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, May 2016

Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: 2013-0146; 2015-0053; 2015-0139.