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A. E. Bennett, Psychiatry Papers

Title: A. E. Bennett, Psychiatry Papers

Creator: Bennett, Abram Elting, 1898-

Dates: 1926-1978

Quantity: 5 boxes (2.5 linear feet)

Collection Number: RG 20-11-01

Language: English

Restrictions: None

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Historical Records Statement: Please see our statement on historical records and materials.

Preferred Citation: A. E. Bennett, Psychiatry Papers (RG 20-11-01). Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.


A.E. Bennett was born on 12 January 1898 in Alliance, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor's of science degree in 1919, and from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 1921. He interned from 1920-1921 at the University of Nebraska Hospital, and from 1922-1923 at the Philadelphia General Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His residency was at the Philadelphia Orthopedic Hospital and Nervous Infirmary and at Johns Hopkins' Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland.

Bennett practiced medicine at Clarkson Memorial Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska from 1924-1948, specializing in neurology and psychiatry. He was also on the University of Nebraska College of Medicine faculty from 1928-1947. In 1945, he began the A.E. Bennett Neuropsychiatric Research Foundation. When Clarkson's psychiatry department closed, Bennett moved to Berkeley, California, working at the Herrick Memorial Hospital and as a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Berkeley. The tragic death of Foster Bennett, one of Bennett's three children, inspired the Foster Bennett Memorial Lecture Series. Bennett died March 7, 1985.

A.E. Bennett was a member of the American Psychiatrists Association (APA), American Medical Association (AMA), American Neurological Association, and was an AMA National Board Medical Examiner. He received AMA awards for science exhibits in 1940, 1946, and 1958, and developed medical uses of curare, a tribal poison and curative. Bennett pioneered modern therapy for the mentally ill and researched effects of alchoholism on the brain.

Scope and Content:

The Bennett papers document roughly the fifty years of Bennett's academic career and his research and publications related to his interests in neuropsychiatry, alcoholism and it's effects on the brain, and the use of curare as medicine. Documents include correspondence, exhibit photographs, articles written by Bennett and materials associated with his professional activities.


Bennett, Abram Elting, 1898-


Alcohol -- Physiological effect

Brain damage


Neuropsychiatry -- History


Psychiatric nursing


Series Description: Series 1: Professional Research and Correspondence, Box 1

This series includes professional research and correspondence. The overall content relates to Bennett's professional work on psychiatry and neurology, with supplemental personal correspondence to and from his colleagues. The correspondence is arranged chronologically, though related letters or letters of reply do not follow chronological order.

Series 2: Publications, Exhibits, and Presentations, Box 2-Box 3, F6, Box 4

This series includes a copy of a "Who's Who in the World" application letter, with a detailed sketch of Bennett's life through 1978. Photographs related to Bennett's exhibit entitled "The History and Development of Modern Psychiatric Nursing," provide historical pictorial views of psychiatry from the primitive period to modern times. All photographs relating to this exhibit are housed in Box 4. Selected presentations were captured on reel-to-reel tapes. These tapes are housed in Box 4 of the collection and listed by title. A biography of Foster Bennett, M.D., written by Bennett, is a poignant two-page illumination of his son's life and the rationale for the Foster Bennett Memorial Lectures founded in 1969. This is located with the A.E. Bennett Neuropsychiatric Research Foundation materials in the professional research and correspondence.

Series 3: Personal Materials, Box 3

In addition to practicing medicine, Bennett wrote letters to celebrities who demonstrated opinions discordant with his own. There are letters to presidents Richard M. Nixon, regarding his proposed deficit spending program, and Jimmy Carter about his "Marxist administrative policies." Also included is a heated letter to Merv Griffin about a program on the death penalty. The collection also includes a response letter from Ronald Reagan, which states: "I must confess, it is impossible for me to recall the circumstances in the signing of that bill." All of these letters are located with the correspondence found within Bennett's personal materials.

Container List: Series 1: Professional Research and CorrespondenceBox 1. Folder 1. Research, "Fifty Years in Neurology and Psychiatry," 1926-1975, undated Box 1. Folder 2. Research, Charles "Boss" Kettering, 1933, 1943, 1956, 1958, undated Box 1. Folder 3. Research, fever therapy, 1935-1938, 1940-1941, undated Box 1. Folder 4. Research, Clarkson Memorial Hospital Psychiatric Department closing, 1936, 1938-1939, 1942, 1945-1948, 1956-1957, undated Box 1. Folder 5. Research, curare-metrazol therapy, 1939-1940 Box 1. Folder 6. Research, curare, 1939-1940, 1943, 1945, 1947-1948, 1953, undated (see also photographs in box 4) Box 1. Folder 7. Research, muscular dystrophy, 1940-1941 Box 1. Folder 8. Research, Bennett Neuropsychiatric Research Foundation, 1947, 1953, 1958-1959, 1966-1967, 1970, 1973-1974, 1979, undated Box 1. Folder 9. Research, cortisone, 1950, undated Box 1. Folder 10. Research, "alcoholism and the brain," 1953, 1956, 1958, 1977, undated (see also photographs in box 4) Box 1. Folder 11. Research, Foundation for Research and Education on Eugenics and Dysgenics (FREED), 1969-1974, 1977, undated Box 1. Folder 12. Correspondence, meetings, presentations, circa 1929-1978 Box 1. Folder 13. Correspondence, AMA, 1934, 1936, 1938-1939 Box 1. Folder 14. Correspondence, fever therapy conferences, 1935-1938, 1940-1941, 1943 Box 1. Folder 15. Correspondence, APA, various, 1940-1943, 1963, 1967-1968, 1977 Box 1. Folder 16. Correspondence, papers, APA reorganization, 1948-1949, undated Box 1. Folder 17. Correspondence, lists, APA breakfast, 1968, undated Box 1. Folder 18. Correspondence, reprint requests, 1927-1959 Series 2: Publications, Exhibits, and PresentationsBox 2. Folder 1. Publications, reprint requests, 1927-1959 Box 2. Folder 2. Publications, newspaper articles, 1922-1978 Box 2. Folder 3. Publications, paper and article responses, 1933-1978 Box 2. Folder 4. Publications, paper, "fever therapy," 1922-1947, undated Box 2. Folder 5. Publications, unpublished papers, 1950-1978 Box 2. Folder 6. Publications, unpublished papers, undated Box 2. Folder 7. Publications, books and article announcements, 1955, 1972, 1977, undated Box 2. Folder 8. Publications, preliminary papers, drafts, circa 1967-1970, undated Box 2. Folder 9. Publications, reprints, 1923-1939, undated Box 2. Folder 10. Publications, reprints, 1939-1948, undated Box 2. Folder 11. Publications, reprints, 1948-1951 Box 2. Folder 12. Publications, reprints, 1952-1959 Box 3. Folder 1. Publications, reprints, 1960-1965 Box 3. Folder 2. Publications, reprints, 1965-1969, undated Box 3. Folder 3. Publications, reprints, 1970-1976, undated Box 3. Folder 4. Exhibit, Modern Psychiatric Nursing, 1937-1939, undated (see also photographs in box 4) Box 3. Folder 5. Publications, "Letters to the Editor," 1965, 1967-1973, undated Box 3. Folder 6. Publications, other writers, 1939, 1943, 1945-47, 1961, 1971, 1973, undated Series 3: Personal MaterialsBox 3. Folder 7. Correspondence, practice offers, 1920, 1928, 1933, 1938, 1940, undated Box 3. Folder 8. Correspondence, Musser, J. H., 1922-1941 Box 3. Folder 9. Correspondence, Morgan, A.C., 1926-1940 Box 3. Folder 10. Correspondence, Ziegler, Lloyd, 1930-1945 Box 3. Folder 11. Correspondence, Simpson, Walter M., 1934-1973 Box 3. Folder 12. Correspondence, Alvarez, Walter, 1940-1978 Box 3. Folder 13. Correspondence, personal, 1925-1953 Box 3. Folder 14. Correspondence, personal, 1961-1977 Box 3. Folder 15. Correspondence, "important events," 1932, 1934-36, 1943, 1970-1974 Box 3. Folder 16. Correspondence, "important people," 1935-1975 Box 3. Folder 17. Correspondence, "important people," 1966-1977 Box 3. Folder 18. Medical newsletters, misc., 1947-1978 Box 4. Folder 1. Photographs, Ecuador (see related material in Box 1, Folder 6) Box 4. Folder 2. Photographs, "alcoholism and the brain" (see related material in Box 1, Folder 10) Box 4. Folder 3. Photographs, psychiatry, primitive period (see related material in Box 3, Folder 4) Box 4. Folder 4. Photographs, psychiatry, classical period (see related material in Box 3, Folder 4) Box 4. Folder 5. Photographs, psychiatry, transitional period (see related material in Box 3, Folder 4) Box 4. Folder 6. Photographs, psychiatry, modern period (see related material in Box 3, Folder 4) Box 4. Folder 7. Photographs, modern hospital (see related material in Box 3, Folder 4) Box 5 . Audio-visual materials, presentations, reel-to-reel recordings, 1959-1970Item 1. Recording, Berkeley City Commons Club, "Repressive Sex Laws," 1959, Feb. Item 2. Recording, Berkeley City Commons Club, "Alcoholism," 1962, Nov. 16 Item 3. Recording, APA, "Alcoholism and the Brain," 1964 Item 4. Recording, Berkeley City Commons Club, 1969, June 15 Item 6. Recording, Berkeley City Commons Club, "Behind the Iron Curtain," 1970, Nov. 8
Related Material and Resources: Bennett, A.E. and Avis B. Purdy. Psychiatric Nursing Technic. Philadelphia, F. A. Davis Company, 1940.______________, Eugene A. Hargrove, and Bernice Engle. The Practice of Psychiatry in General Hospitals. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1956.______________. Fifty Years in Neurology and Psychiatry. New York, Intercontinental Medical Book Corp. [1972]_______________. Alcoholism and the Brain. New York: Stratton Intercontinental Medical Book Corp., c1977.Additional material on Bennett's curare research may be found at the Arthur E. Guedel Memorial Anesthesia Center and Archives in San Francisco, California. This collection includes Bennett's fifteen minute black and white silent film of the Gill Merrill expedition to Ecuador for curare. It also includes photographs and correspondence from and to Bennett about curare techniques.

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