Endowment supporting rare book collection transferred to UNMC

June 17, 2021

Image with caption: Since 1974, the Orr collection has been on permanent loan to the UNMC library.

Since 1974, the Orr collection has been on permanent loan to the UNMC library.

The American College of Surgeons, the largest professional organization of surgeons in the world, has permanently transferred the endowment that supports its H. Winnett Orr, MD, rare book collection and other surgical archives to the UNMC McGoogan Health Sciences Library.

The Orr rare book collection will continue to be on permanent loan to the UNMC library, where it has been housed for nearly 50 years.

picture disc.
H. Winnett Orr, MD

Rare books from the collection will be prominently displayed in the Wigton Heritage Center, a new interactive welcome center at UNMC's Omaha campus that will be dedicated later this month. The center is located between the library and the original entrance of University Hospital (now University Tower). Selected books from the collection will appear in the American College of Surgeons Rare Book Gallery located on the fifth floor of Wittson Hall.

The endowment will be managed by the University of Nebraska Foundation.

"It is very much appreciated to receive an endowment from another organization, and we will use these funds to support the rare book collection -- both in preserving the collection itself and in providing unique ways to educate the public about this collection. These books are invaluable in teaching us about the history of surgical medicine," said Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, UNMC chancellor. Dr. Gold, a fellow of the ACS (FACS).

David Hoyt, MD, FACS, executive director of the American College of Surgeons, said that UNMC's commitment to the collection -- as well as the new space that will help feature it at the Wigton Heritage Center -- made it an appropriate time to transfer the collection's permanent endowment.

About the endowment

The American College of Surgeons received approximately $48,000 in 1962 from the estate of Mary McKibben Harper to support the Orr Library. The college transferred the library to the University of Nebraska Medical Center and provided funding to support the maintenance and upkeep of the collection. The college's remaining endowment for the Orr Library of $400,000 was transferred in 2021 to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to support housing and to continue the maintenance and upkeep of the collection.

"The rare book collection from Dr. H. Winnett Orr -- one of the original senior members of the American College of Surgeons -- provides a glimpse into the history and early days of our profession. The Wigton Heritage Center at UNMC is an ideal location to showcase these important volumes," said Dr. Hoyt.

Dr. Orr practiced medicine and orthopedic surgery in Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1899 to 1956. During World War I, he devised the "Orr Method" for treating bone and wound infections and compound fractures. He also developed techniques using skeletal pains, plaster of Paris and other immobilizing devices.

Dr. Orr donated his collection to the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in the 1930s. Since 1974, the Orr collection has been on permanent loan to the UNMC library. The books tell a history of surgical practices from medicine's earliest days in the U.S.

The opening of the Wigton Heritage Center will be celebrated on June 29 at UNMC, following COVID protocols. At the appropriate time as the pandemic concludes, guided tours of the space will be offered.

Comments
Sue Anson
June 17, 2021 at 8:55 AM

This sounds fascinating! I'll have to make it a point to stop in sometime after I get off work.