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H MS c51

Kazanjian, Varaztad Hovhannes. Papers, 1900-1979, 1984: 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

The organization of this archive was supported by the National Archives of Plastic Surgery under the sponsorship of: Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation; American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, Inc.; American Association of Plastic Surgeons; American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Inc.; American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons; and the Plastic Surgery Research Council.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c51
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Kazanjian, Varaztad Hovhannes.
Title: Varaztad Hovhannes Kazanjian Papers,
Date(s): 1900-1979, 1984.
Quantity: 205 cubic feet (205 record storage cartons)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Correspondence, articles, lectures, drafts, patient records and histories, photographs, models, moulages, and instruments relating to Varaztad Hovhannes Kazanjian's career as a plastic surgeon, professor, and author, as well as his involvement in professional organizations.

Processing Information:

This finding aid has been posted as a product of converting a heritage finding aid to an electronic format for the purpose of facilitating collection access. Researchers should be aware that this finding aid has not been revised to meet current Center for the History of Medicine descriptive practices, nor nationally promulgated content standards. Please report any difficulties using this guide to Public Services.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access requires advance notice. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series IV and VI. 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:

Varaztad Hovhannes Kazanjian Papers, 1900-1979, 1984. H MS c51. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

Biographical Note

Varaztad Hovhannes Kazanjian (1879-1974) was an internationally known pioneer in plastic surgery, specializing in the treatment of numerous congenital and acquired facial deformities. His innovative surgical procedures were recorded in more than one hundred and fifty journal articles. With John Marquis Converse, he authored the classic plastic surgery textbook, The Surgical Treatment of Facial Injuries.
Dr. Kazanjian came to the United States in 1895 from Turkish Armenia at the age of sixteen. During most of the next seven years, he worked in a wire mill in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the same time attending Worcester night schools and taking correspondence courses to supplement his early education in missionary schools in Armenia. He became an American citizen in 1900 and that year decided to study dentistry.
Two years later, he was admitted to Harvard Dental School where he first became interested in the treatment of fractured jaws. At that time such cases, as well as many post-operative and congenital deformities, were treated at the Dental School clinic. Upon graduation in 1905, Dr. Kazanjian opened a dental practice and also began his long teaching association with Harvard as an Assistant in Prosthetic Dentistry. In 1912, Dr. Kazanjian became head of that department. His interest in facial injuries increased during his pre-war practice, as he treated hundreds of fractured jaws and developed a specialized knowledge of the construction of unusual appliances.
World War I provided the opportunity for Dr. Kazanjian to use his remarkable ingenuity, talent, and surgical skills. In 1915, he went overseas with the First Harvard Unit to serve with the British Expeditionary Forces. As the unit's Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Kazanjian established the first dental and maxillofacial clinic in France, handling over three thousand cases of gunshot, shrapnel, and other severe wounds of the face and jaws during the war years. In 1919, in recognition of his service, he was invested as a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.
Dr. Kazanjian returned to Harvard Dental School as Professor of Military Oral Surgery in 1919 and at the same time enrolled as a student at Harvard Medical School. He received his M.D. in 1921.
In the years that followed, Dr. Kazanjian maintained an active surgical practice, treating patients from all over the world. He was head of the combined Plastic Surgery Clinic of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts General Hospital and also served on the staffs of other major Boston and suburban hospitals, including Mt. Auburn Hospital, New England Deaconess Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, and Boston City Hospital. He was Professor of Clinical Oral Surgery at Harvard from 1922 to 1941, when he was named Harvard's first Professor of Plastic Surgery.
As a prominent figure in plastic surgery for over sixty years, Dr. Kazanjian was the recipient of many national and international honors. Among them were the Special Honorary Citation of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1951; an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Bowdoin College in 1952; the Honor Key Award of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in 1953; honorary membership in the Chalmers J. Lyons Academy of Oral Surgery at the University of Michigan and the Society Award of the American Society of Oral Surgeons in 1954; the Special Honorary Award of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons in 1956; the Award of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1959; a New York University Presidential Citation in 1962; and the V.H. Kazanjian Visiting Professorship in Plastic Surgery at New York University Medical Center's Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery in 1962.
Dr. Kazanjian became an Honorary Fellow of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1966 and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1967. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, and the American College of Dentists, and a Diplomat and member of the Founders Group of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Dr. Kazanjian also served as President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgery, and the New England Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Despite his many accomplishments and numerous honors, Dr. Kazanjian remained a humble man. Dr. John Marquis Converse described his teacher and friend in the third edition of their textbook: "A man of great determination, though soft spoken with kindly eyes, one felt in his presence a vitality and keenness of perception. Imaginative and resourceful, he taught to improvise new methods rather than follow the conventional. "Do it just right," he would say, meaning in his laconic way (he preferred action to talk) that each patient's problem required an individual solution. Never did I hear him denigrate a colleague's work. His kindness, warmth, and modesty are legendary.

Biographical / Historical



Series and Subseries in the Collection

Scope and Content

The Varaztad H. Kazanjian Archive was donated by the Kazanjian Family to the National Archives of Plastic Surgery, Center for the History of Medicine, in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. The archive, which consists of 204 record cartons and twenty-one card file drawers, spans the years 1905 to 1984. Dr. Kazanjian's patient records, which include photographs, diagrams, films, moulages, models, and instruments, as well as patient histories, constitute ninety per cent of the archive. The patient records are alphabetically arranged within the following four sub-sections: "World War I Patients," "Osteo-Frontal Bone Case Histories," "Special Patient Histories," and "Patient Histories." Access to all patient records is restricted. A subject or operation/diagnosis approach to the post World War I patient records is possible with the use of the card file drawers labeled, "Operations, 1922-1962," and folders PS-24 to PS-39, labeled "Compilations of Patients by Diagnosis or Operation, 1920-1961." A chronological approach to some of Dr. Kazanjian's patient records is possible by referring to the seven card file drawers labeled, "Patients, 1927-1941, Cases #2-2050," as well as folders PS-9 to PS-21, labeled "Chronological Listing of Patients, 1945-1957."
Also included in the archive are drafts of Dr. Kazanjian's articles and books as well as materials that relate to his professional and academic life. Dr. Kazanjian's correspondence includes a significant exchange of letters with Dr. John Marquis Converse. The reprints of Dr. Kazanjian's journal articles can be found in the Harvard Medical School Archives. A portion of Dr. Kazanjian's professional library is housed in the National Archives of Plastic Surgery.

Container List

Index To Correspondents