by Joy Oria, Archives Intern
What is insanity? This and other weighty questions were pondered by James Greenwood Sr., MD during his long career in neuropsychiatry. His papers reflect his experiences treating patients at the Greenwood Sanitarium, which he operated from 1912 until his death in 1949. The sanitarium was located in Houston, Texas, south of Brays Bayou, and northwest of the modern-day intersection of Fannin St and Old Spanish Trail.
Dr. Greenwood and his family lived on-site at the sanitarium. His eldest son, James Greenwood Jr., was also inspired to study the brain and its functions. Like his father, he graduated from University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, was a leader in local medical societies, and went on to teach at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Greenwood Jr., though, focused on neurology and became the first neurosurgeon in Houston and the Southwest United States. He served as Chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery at the Methodist Hospital from 1936 to 1980. An innovator in his field, he invented the bipolar coagulation forceps and developed bipolar electrocoagulation, which enabled surgeons to staunch bleeding while irrigating incisions to prevent tissue from overheating and incurring more damage. He was the first neurosurgeon in the world to successfully remove intramedullary spinal cord tumors.
Papers of both father and son can be found in the collection James Greenwood Sr. and Jr., MDs papers. Content includes drafts for presentations and publications, correspondence, journals, and a few photographs. An exhibit is on view through the summer in the Texas Medical Center Library!