Guide to the Hans Horst Meyer Papers, 1831-1939, 2004 and undated
The Hans Horst Meyer papers document Meyer's scientific career and personal life, through professional correspondence, chiefly relating to honors he received; diplomas, honors, medals, and awards; an autograph book with signatures and correspondence of notable individuals; genealogical documents; and personal papers and photographs of his family. Also included are a reprint of Meyer's chapter in the "Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie" and a few articles on Meyer. The scrapbook contains 147 autographs and letters of well-known German and European scientists and writers, most of whom lived in the 19th century; significant pieces include a letter each from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, and Clara Schumann, and a postcard from Johannes Brahms. The professional materials also include photographs of Meyer at his desk, group photographs of Meyer with his colleagues at the University of Vienna, and two photographs of pioneer neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing (Boston), inscribed to Meyer (1914 and 1929), and a sketch by Cushing of a spongioblast (an embryonic neural cell). Personal papers in the collection consist of three volumes: a family Bible from 1831 with names of family members and dates, a journal describing Meyer's son Arthur's first six years of life; and a manuscript volume of quotations from poetry. There are also photographs of Meyer and family members. A series of incoming and outgoing correspondence, genealogical information, official documents and forms, identity cards, and clippings relates to Meyer's efforts in the late 1930s to obtain a new German identity card, possibly in order to leave Austria, and to obtain proof that his family was not of Jewish descent. He died in Vienna in late 1939 with his application still in process. There 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. The Hans Horst Meyer papers form part of the History of Medicine Collections at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Hans Horst Meyer papers
- 1831-1939, 2004 and undated
- Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939
- 7.0 Linear Feet, 8 boxes, Approximately 150 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material chiefly in German, English
The Hans Horst Meyer papers document Meyer's career and personal life through outgoing and incoming personal and professional correspondence; genealogical documents; diplomas, honors, medals, and awards; a series of photographs of Meyer spanning his career, as well as photographs of his family members and professional colleagues; and an autograph album with signatures and correspondence of notable individuals. Most of the papers in the collection are in German.
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 reveal Meyer's efforts from about 1938 to 1939 to obtain a new identity card and document his family's religious descent, possibly in order to leave the country; this group includes official documents, identity and voting cards, and correspondence with parishes and German officials. Meyer died in Vienna while his application was still under review. There 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. The personal papers are accompanied by a German bible, a volume of quotations, and a journal in which Meyer recorded his son Arthur's first six years of life. There are also photographs in the collection of Meyer with various family members: his wife Doris, shortly after marriage, his sons Arthur and Kurt, his daughter-in-law Lotte, and his 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.
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.
Black-and-white photographs of Dr. Meyer in Vienna and Berlin, and of Meyer's 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, J. Horst Meyer, circa 2004. Arranged in chronological order.
Cushing is posed while drawing with a pen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Meyer's middle son Arthur shot his wife, then committed suicide, following the family's persecution due to his wife's Jewish ancestry. Arthur Meyer's son, J. Horst Meyer, was a professor of physics at Duke University from 1959 to 2004. [Source: Wikipedia, June 2014.]
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939 -- Portraits
- History of Medicine Collections (Duke University)
- Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939
- Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939
- Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939 -- Portraits
The Hans Horst Meyer papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1998 and 2013, and as a transfer in 2011.
Processed by Willeke Sandler, April 2012
Encoded by Willeke Sandler, April 2012
Addition 2013-0146 processed and encoded by Sandra Neithardt and Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, September 2015
All accessions are represented in this finding aid.