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H MS c113

Murray, Joseph E., 1919-2012. Papers, 1919-2011 (inclusive): 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 c113
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Murray, Joseph E., MD (Joseph Edward Murray)
Title: Joseph E. Murray papers,
Date(s): 1919-2012 (inclusive).
Quantity: 112.55 cubic feet (106 records center cartons, 12 flat oversized boxes, 5 letter size document boxes, 1 half letter size document box, 1 half legal size document box, and 1 tube)
Language of materials: Papers are in English.
Abstract: The Joseph E. Murray papers, 1919-2011 (inclusive), are the product of Murray's activities as a plastic surgeon, transplant surgeon, laboratory director, author, and Harvard Medical School alumnus.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

  • Accession number 2012-046. Joseph E. Murray. 2011 December 06.
  • Accession number 2005-051. Joseph E. Murray. 2005 April.
  • Accession number 2001-054. Joseph E. Murray. 2001 June 01.
  • Processing Information:

    Processed by Bryan Sutherland, 2013 February.
    Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff re-housed the collection and, where necessary, photocopied documents onto acid-free paper. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    Access requires advance notice. Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series III. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in all Series. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.
    The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact Public Services for more information concerning retrieval of material.

    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 Public Services. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from Public Services are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

    Preferred Citation:

    Joseph E. Murray papers, 1919-2011 (inclusive). HMS c113. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

    Related Papers in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine


    Dental molds and surgical sutures were transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum in February 2013.

    Biographical Note

    Joseph E. Murray (1919-2012), A.B., 1940, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts; M.D., 1943, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, transplant and plastic surgeon, received the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on organ transplantation. Between 1951 and 1985, Murray served as Director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women's Hospital), head of the plastic surgery departments at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Children's Hospital Boston, and was a Harvard Medical School Professor of Surgery.
    Joseph Edward Murray was born on 1 April 1919, in Milford, Massachusetts. His father Edward Murray was a lawyer and judge and his mother Mary (DePasquale) Murray was a schoolteacher. Murray graduated from Milford High School in 1936, subsequently attending the College of the Holy Cross and Harvard Medical School. After graduating in 1940 and 1943, respectively, Murray completed his internship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital ("the Brigham") and then entered the United States Army Medical Corps in 1944. He served at Valley Forge General Hospital, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, during World War II, working with surgeon Bradford Cannon (1907-2005), and it was there, while performing skin grafts on burned soldiers, that Murray first became interested in organ transplantation. After his military service, he returned to the Brigham and completed his surgical residency (1947-1951) and plastic surgery residency at New York Hospital (now New York-Presbyterian Hospital), New York City, in 1951. Murray then returned to the Brigham in 1951 as a staff generalist and plastic surgeon.
    In 1952, Murray became Director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1952-1975), based on the Harvard Medical School Quadrangle. It was there that Murray and his colleagues refined the surgical techniques for renal transplantation in dogs, which led to the development of the procedure used for humans. On 23 December 1954, Murray performed the first successful human organ transplantation, between identical twins, Ronald (donor) and Richard (recipient) Herrick, at the Brigham; in 1959, the first successful renal transplantation between non-identical twins utilizing total body x-rays to suppress the recipient's immune system; and in 1962, the first cadaveric renal transplantation, employing the new immunosuppressant drug Azathioprine (Imuran) he had developed with Roy Yorke Calne (born 1959), George Herbert Hitchings (1905-1998), and Gertrude Belle Elion (1918-1999). In 1971, Murray resigned as the Chief of Transplant Surgery at the Brigham to focus on plastic surgery, serving as the Head of Plastic Surgery at both the Brigham (until 1986) and Children's Hospital Boston (1972-1985), where he focused on craniofacial reconstruction. He served as a Professor of Surgery, and later Professor Emeritus, at Harvard Medical School from 1970 until his death.
    During his career, Murray was active in professional organizations, serving as a Regent for the American College of Surgeons (1970-1979), President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (1965), Chair of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (1969-1970), and President of the Boston Surgical Society (1975). Murray was also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which advises the Vatican on science issues. At Harvard Medical School, he served as chairman of the Alumni Fund. Murray suffered a stroke in 1986 and though he made a full recovery, he chose to retire.
    Murray married Virginia "Bobby" Link in 1945. They had six children together: three sons (J. Link, Thomas and Richard) and three daughters (Virginia, Margaret and Katherine). The family lived in Wellesley, Massachusetts and spent summers on Chappaquiddick Island, Martha's Vineyard. On 22 November 2012, Murray suffered a major intra cerebral bleed. He died four days later, 26 November 2012, at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

    Resources on Joseph Murray

    Series and Subseries in the Collection

    Scope and Content

    The Joseph E. Murray papers, 1919-2011 (inclusive), are the product of Murray's activities as a plastic surgeon, transplant surgeon, laboratory director, author, and Harvard Medical School alumnus. The papers include: records from Murray's plastic surgery and transplantation work at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Children's Hospital Boston, including patient records; his personal and professional correspondence; and records produced from his activities as Chairman of the Harvard Medical Alumni Fund and from reunions of the Harvard Medical School class of 1943b. Also contained in the collection are Murray's professional writings, records generated as a product of attending professional meetings and conferences, newspaper and magazine clippings, and subject files maintained by Murray. Photographs and audiovisual records can be found in series VIII and X.
    The Joseph E. Murray papers consist of ten series: I. Hospital Records, II. Correspondence, III. Harvard Medical School Records, IV. American College of Surgeons Records, V. Event Records, VI. Writings, VII. Personal Records, VIII. Photographs, IX. Subject Files, Clippings and Publications and X. Audiovisual Records.
    The papers are entirely in English.




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