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Voice of Bertner

Sandra Yates
Archivist and Special Collections Librarian

Portrait of Dr. E. W. Bertner. McGovern Historical Center.
Portrait of Dr. E. W. Bertner. McGovern Historical Center.

Bertner Avenue runs north and south through the heart of the Texas Medical Center. And at 1.4 miles long, it is one of the longer streets in the TMC. It starts in the north at Baylor College of Medicine and John Freeman Boulevard and ends in the south at West Road past the UTHealth Recreation Center Athletic Fields. This is no coincidence! The street is named after Dr. Ernst William Bertner, who was one of the most influential characters in the establishment and growth of the Texas Medical Center. As the first president of the TMC and first acting director of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Bertner was the driving force behind the success of the grand concept of a medical center in Houston. He raised money, influenced member institutions to join the TMC, and, as you’ll soon hear, advocated for cancer research.
We recently found two phonograph records in the archive, which was very exciting. They are lacquer discs with an aluminum base measuring 12-inch and 16-inch in diameter. According to the Preservation Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) website at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, these types of dics were used from the late-1920s to 1970s but mostly in the 1930 and 1940s. PSAP goes on to say:

Often found among early to mid-twentieth century broadcast collections, the radio transcription disc was a form of lacquer disc cut for use at a later broadcast time. They were often used to record radio programs and field recordings as well as for office and home dictation.

Label for the phonograph record of Passing in Review. [E. W. Bertner, MD papers, MS002, McGovern Historical Center]
Label for the phonograph record of Passing in Review. [E. W. Bertner, MD papers, MS002, McGovern Historical Center]

These items were digitized around 2005, and it is great to hear the voice of Dr. Bertner. I think it sounds like a cross between President Lyndon B. Johnson and 1992 presidential candidate, Ross Perot. What do you think?

Passing in Review, M. D. Anderson Hospital Blood Bank, 1946

“Passing in Review” is a radio program that aired on KPRC radio in Houston, Texas. First half of this episode provides a narrative of the process of donating blood to the M. D. Anderson Hospital Blood Bank. The second half of the episode has Dr. E. W. Bertner – acting director of M. D. Anderson Hospital – and first president of the Texas Medical Center – advocates for donating blood and cancer research. [E. W. Bertner, MD papers, MS002, Texas Medical Center Library, McGovern Historical Center]

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Dr. E. W. Bertner Addresses the 4th Symposium of Cancer Research, 1950

Dr. E. W. Bertner Addresses the 4th Symposium of Cancer Research. Dr. Bertner is the guest of honor for M. D. Anderson Hospital 4th Symposium of Cancer Research in 1950. He addressed the meeting remotely from his residence in the Rice Hotel, Houston, Texas. Dr. Bertner died of cancer in July of 1950.[E. W. Bertner, MD papers, MS002, Texas Medical Center Library, McGovern Historical Center]

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Dr. Bertner looking at plans with Texas Children's Foundation trustees, c. 1948. Hermann Hospital in the background. [E. W. Bertner, MS002, McGovern Historical Center]
Dr. Bertner looking at plans with Texas Children’s Foundation trustees, c. 1948. Hermann Hospital in the background. [E. W. Bertner, MS002, McGovern Historical Center]