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H MS c215

Ballantine, H. Thomas, 1912- , Papers, 1932-1993: A Finding Aid.

Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)


Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c215
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Ballantine, H. Thomas, 1912-
Title: H. Thomas Ballantine Papers, 1932-1993.
Date(s): 1932-1993.
Quantity: 0.5 cubic feet (1 document box, 1 half document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: H MS c215, the H. Thomas Ballantine Papers, 1932-1993, documents the research and professional activities of H. Thomas Ballantine, Clinical Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Senior Neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The H. Thomas Ballantine Papers were donated to the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine by Elizabeth Gardner in April 2000.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Sarah Chiappetta, April 2003
Processing Note: When received, the collection also included the papers of Ballantine's father-in-law, Dr. Charles Mixter, which were separated to form collection H MS c215. Duplicates and items not created by Ballantine were removed from the collection.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access requires advance notice. There are restrictions on access to portions of this collection. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series II. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult the Public Services Librarian for further information.

Conditions Governing Use:

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collection. Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Public Services Librarian. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Public Services Librarian are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright. Reference Services and Access Information.

Preferred Citation:

H. Thomas Ballantine papers, 1932-1993, H MS c215. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.


H. Thomas Ballantine (HTB), 1912-1996, was a Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH); his research focused on bilateral glossopharyngeal rhizotomy and medical ethics.
HTB was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1912, received the BA from Princeton in 1933 and MD from Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1937. HTB's post-graduate training in neurosurgery at MGH was interrupted by his call to service as a neurosurgeon in the Second Auxiliary Surgical Group and the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II from April 1942 through September 1945. The Surgical Group first performed surgery on soldiers in North Africa during the landing at Algiers on 8 November 1942, and also treated patients, including German prisoners of war, in Italy and France. HTB led one of the 44 surgical teams attached to the unit, and performed surgery on the non-transportable wounded in field hospitals in the European theater.
In 1949, HTB returned to MGH and the clinical faculty of Harvard Medical School, where he eventually was appointed Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery in 1971, and emeritus in 1975. HTB was one of the first physicians to research the use of ultrasound to study brain function. In the 1950s under HTB's direction the Medical Acoustic Research Group at MGH performed early studies on the action of ultrasound on human tissue. His clinical contributions focused on limbic system surgery, particularly anterior cingulotomy, for the treatment of psychiatric illness. He published nearly one hundred scientific papers and contributed chapters to several larger texts.
HTB was active in a number of professional organizations. He served as president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, vice-president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery and the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He also was a trustee and Secretary/Treasurer of the American Medical Association, and served on many of its committees. President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research.
HTB died on 14 April 1996. Ballantine was predeceased by his son, Thomas Van Ness Ballantine, for whom the Ballantine Symposium was named.

Series Arrangement


Four folders containing 123 photographs, photographic prints, and slides are housed in box 2. Photographs were removed from folders and relocated to Series II.

Scope and Content Note

H MS c215, the H. Thomas Ballantine Papers, 1932-1993, are the result of Ballantine's service as a surgeon in the United States Army during World War II and his activities related to the Second Auxiliary Group after the war. Records in this collection contain research correspondence and a small number of lectures and journal articles that document his neurosurgery research at MGH; and lectures and notes from his research on bilateral glossopharyngeal rhizotomy and his study in medical ethics. The collection contains only one speech from his presidency of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and nothing from his involvement in other medical groups. There are no records in this collection from HTB's career as a professor at Harvard Medical School and his activities at MGH.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Medicine, Military.
Nervous system--Surgery.
Surgery, Military.
Ballantine, H. Thomas, 1912-