One of the great collections housed at the McGovern Collections is MS 115 the John P. McGovern papers. For about five years, the archivist Pam Cornell worked with the papers. She did preservation work, organized the collection, created the inventory and the finding aid. The finding aid is now available in a printed format at the McGovern Collections Historical Research Center.
The following excerpt is from Pam Cornell’s biography found in the finding aid.
“John Phillip McGovern was born in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1921. He earned both undergraduate and medical degrees from Duke University. His graduate medical education included training at Yale University School of Medicine and Duke University Hospital, as well as Guy’s Hospital in London, L’Hopital des Enfants Malades in Paris, Children’s Hospital in the District of Columbia, and Boston Children’s Hospital.
“Dr. McGovern’s first appointment in medical academics was at George Washington University School of Medicine. He then joined Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. In 1956 he moved to Houston, entering private practice in allergy and immunology and serving on the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine. The growth of his practice led to the founding of McGovern Allergy Clinic, one of the nation’s largest allergy groups, treating patients internationally.
“Dr. McGovern held faculty appointments at Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UT School of Allied Health Sciences, UT School of Public Health, and the School of Nursing and Dental Science Institute at UTHSC-Houston. Other academic appointments outside Texas included a position as Fellow, Green College, Oxford University, England, where William Osler taught.
“John P. McGovern was recognized for excellence in many areas. Early in his career, he was selected as the John and Mary R. Markle Scholar in Medical Science (1950). Later he was honored with the Distinguished Award of Merit by the American College of Allergists and more recently was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London, in addition to other awards.
“Dr. McGovern received honorary doctoral degrees from 29 major colleges and universities. Foreign honors include the Royal Medallion of the Polar Star from Sweden and l’Ordre National du Merite from France. He served as president or chief executive of more than 15 organizations, including the American College of Allergists and the American Osler Society, which he helped found in 1969.
“Dr. McGovern was known for his intense interest in rare books of medicine and in fine writing. He donated a large part of his book collection to form the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center at the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library. McGovern was also an esteemed writer, producing more than 14 books and 187 articles. His editorial skills were prized by many medical journals and he worked with 21 different publications.
“McGovern was a fervent Oslerian, studying and collecting material from the life and works of Sir William Osler and Wilburt C. Davison, M.D. Davison, a Rhodes Scholar under Osler and then Dean of Duke University School of Medicine, profoundly influenced Dr. McGovern during his studies at Duke. Dr. Davison retained Dr. McGovern for an additional year at Duke, acting as both mentor and close friend for the re mainder of their lives. Letters between the two illustrate their remarkable friendship.
“As medical humanitarian, pediatrician, teacher, historian, researcher, and internationally renowned physician, Dr. McGovern shared qualities that Osler and Davison espoused, namely interest first in the patient and then in the diagnosis.”