Guide to the Hans Horst Meyer papers, 1831-1943, 2004 and undated
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 Number
- Hans Horst Meyer papers
- 1831-1943, 2004 and undated
- Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939
- 8 Linear Feet, 10 boxes, Approximately 201 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material chiefly in German, with some in French and English.
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.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
The negatives, glass slides, and viewer may be used only with prior permission of curatorial staff.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Hans Horst Meyer papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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?
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.]
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Boris III, Czar of Bulgaria, 1894-1943
- Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939 -- Portraits
- Meyer, Hans Horst, 1853-1939
- Meyer, Arthur, 1885-1933
- Meyer, Horst, 1926-2016
- Autographs -- Germany -- 19th century
- Bulgaria -- History -- Boris III, 1918-1943
- Genealogy -- Law and legislation -- Germany
- Pharmacology -- Germany -- History -- 20th century
- Poland -- History -- Occupation, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives
- Scientists -- Europe -- Correspondence
- Universität Wien -- Faculty -- Correspondence
- Fathers and sons -- Germany -- 20th century
- Germany -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945
- Vienna (Austria) -- History
- Vienna (Austria) -- Intellectual life
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.
Processed by Willeke Sandler, April 2012
Addition 2013-0146 processed and encoded by Sandra Neithardt and Paula Jeannet, September 2015.
Addition 2015-0139 processed and encoded by Paula Jeannet, May 2016
Accession(s) represented in this collection guide: 2013-0146; 2015-0053; 2015-0139.