Medical Memorabilia


The Light collection of scientific letters : a collection of correspondence and memoranda with autographs of renowned scientists [1800- ], compiled and donated by David S. Light, M.D. (alumnus, Tulane University School of Medicine, 1944), comprises letters, autographs and portraits of renowned scientists and physicians. Among the autographs in collection: Claude Bernard, Sir William Bowman, Jean Martin Charcot, Sir Astley Paston Cooper, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Harvey Williams Cushing, Paul Ehrlich, Sigmund Freud, Herman Ludwig Ferdinand Von Helmholtz, Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle, Cornielle Jean Francois Heymans, Johannes Muller, Albert Ludwig Siegmund Neisser, Sir James Paget, Louis Pasteur, Johannes Evangelesta Purkinje, William Ramsay, Louis-Antoine Ranvier, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, Friedrich Tiedmann, JohnTyndall, Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow, William Henry Welsh.

W.D. Postell, Jr., Director of the Rudolph Matas Library, accepted the donation in March 1993.

Images from the David S. Light Collection are now available in the Tulane Digital Library. Photocopies of originals are filed in a binder. Portraits and the original letters and autographs are kept in the History collection.

Diplomas & Certificates

The Historical Collection of the Rudolph Matas Library maintains a collection of diplomas, certificates, awards. A major portion of this collection consists of the diplomas, along with the numerous awards and commendations of Rudolph Matas. Tulane is well represented in the collection, but many institutions' documents are represented from the United States, the Americas and Europe. The earliest documents in the collection are those of Isidore Labatut which includes a passport from 1814, and diplomas from 1817 and 1818 awarded by Academy of Monteillier, France. The most recent document currently in the collection was awarded to Rudolph Matas, the Condecoracion de la Orden Nacional de Merito Carlos J. Finlay, conferred by the president of the Republic of Cuba on December 3rd 1957.

Click here for the Index of Diplomas and Certificates, listed by name of the individual awardee.

Elizabeth Bass Collection: Women in Medicine

The Elizabeth Bass Collection on Women in Medicine was donated to the Rudolph Matas Library by its creator Dr. Mary Elizabeth Bass (1876-1956). Dr. Bass was a 1904 graduate of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania and one of the first women physicians on the faculty at Tulane University School of Medicine. She began her career at Tulane in 1911 as Assistant Demonstrator in Surgical Pathology three years before women were admitted to Tulane as medical students. She retired in 1941.

She came from a medically prominent family in Mississippi. Her brother Charles Cassidy Bass was Dean of Tulane Medical School from 1922 to 1940, and her sister Cora was also a physician. Elizabeth Bass was the first woman admitted to the Orleans Parish Medical Society and the first one to hold a major office in the Society (secretary 1920-22, vice president 1923). She was also the editor of the OPMS Bulletin for a number of years. She served as president of the American Medical Women's Association (1921-1922) and founded its New Orleans group. She was the first woman chairman of a section of the Southern Medical Association, the Section on Pathology, in 1939. In 1952 she received the Alumnae Achievement Award of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, and in 1953 the Elizabeth Blackwell Centennial medal of the American Medical Women's Association.

Through her contacts and associations, she collected a vast array of materials pertaining to women in medicine. This collection consists of newspaper clippings, pictures, photographs, glass magic lantern slides, books, medical school catalogs, etc. There are approximately six filing cabinet drawers of clippings, pictures and photographs, eight shelves of books and catalogs, and four small boxes of glass magic lantern slides.

There is a 50 page finding aid to the collection: Goldstein, C. H. (1985) Guide to the Elizabeth Bass Collection of Women in Medicine. The Guide is also available in an electronic format (PDF).

searchable database of the 293 books in the Women in Medicine Collection can be found here. The database does not include clippings, pictures, and photographs, or lantern slides. Please contact for more information.

Some of the materials in the collection are available through Interlibrary Loan, but most of the collection is restricted to in-house use only between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Please contact the Rudolph Matas Library to make arrangements for research using the Bass Collection.

Highlights from the Bass Collection

  • Life's Story, Mary Ryerson Butin, M.D., 1932 (PDF)
  • List of Items in the Collection, Cynthia Goldstein, 1985 (PDF)
Lecture Tickets

In the early days of the Medical College of Louisiana, individuals wishing to attend the instructional lectures bought matriculation tickets from the instructors. The cost of the course of lectures varied from $15 to $20 depending in part upon the frequency of the lectures. Midwifery met three times a week, but most of the other courses met six times a week. Courses began the first Monday in December and ran through the end of March.

Click here for a listing of the Matriculation Tickets within the Historic Collection.

Medals & Awards

Rudolph Matas Library maintains the medals and awards of Dr. Rudolph Matas. The Library also has a replica of the Nobel medal of Louis J. Ignarro, faculty (1973-1985), Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1998).

The Matas Library has a collection of medals issued in honor of individuals or commemorating a momentous event, disease, hospital, school or society collected by Benjamin Bernard Weinstein, M.D. and donated to the Rudolph Matas Library by the family of B. Bernard Weinstein.

The Weinstein Medallions Collection will be available soon in the Tulane Digital Library.

NOTE: Rudolph Matas Library has neither the resources for the pricing/valuation of medals nor for researching the history of medals. Please consult a professional coin dealer if you have questions regarding a coin or medal. Rudolph Matas Library does not purchase new medals to add to the existing collection.

Oral Histories: Tulane University Department of Psychiatry and Neurology

collection of oral history interviews conducted by Wallace Tomlinson that was presented at the Tulane History of Medicine Society is available in the Historical Collection. Later interviews were conducted by C.B. Scrignar with significant faculty members of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology between 2004-2006. A composite history of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology from 1949 to 2006 is narrated by Dr. Scrignar and also contains excerpts from the faculty interviews. The composite DVD lasts approximately two hours.
Copies are available in the library: WZ 24 T82pn no.33 (1949-2006).


The Matas Library Historical Collection includes a collection of photographic portraits of Louisiana physicians. Many of the photographs were from the personal collections of Dr. Rudolph Matas, B. Bernard Weinstein, Elizabeth Bass and others that have donated photographs to Tulane University’s collections. There is a card file of names in the Matas Library. Most of these photographs range from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Some lantern slides are included in the collection.

The Matas Library also has Tulane yearbooks ranging from 1900 to date. Medical class composites of classes are available, mostly from the later part of the twentieth century.

The Medical Arts photographic collection includes building photographs of Charity hospital and the Tulane historic health sciences campus and buildings. The focus of this collection is Louisiana’s health facilities and infrastructure.

Access to all of these collections require prior consult and appointments. Please contact the Matas Librarians.

Rudolph Matas M.D. Artifacts & Memorabilia

Rudolph Matas received his degree in medicine from the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana, now Tulane University, in 1880. In 1895 he was elected Professor of Surgery at Tulane University, a post he held until he became Emeritus Professor in 1927. He was also active as surgeon and consultant at Charity Hospital, Touro Infirmary, and the Ear, Eye, Nose and Throat Hospital - all in New Orleans - throughout a long career.

Dr. Matas was a pioneer of the first rank in the surgery of the blood vessels, chest and abdomen. His introduction of the suture for the cure of aneurysm won him international fame and caused Sir William Osler to hail him as the "Father of Vascular Surgery" and the "Modern Antyllus". His development of the intravenous drip technique, suction siphonage in abdominal operations, and other achievements, brought him signal honors from colleagues at home and in many countries abroad. Dr. Matas was selected by the Times Picayune as one of the individuals that defined New Orleans in the 20th Century.

Dr. Matas' papers are maintained by the Tulane University Manuscripts Department in Jones Hall on the uptown campus (Matas, Rudolph, 1860-1957. | Tulane University Special Collections: Manuscripts Collection 868). Rudolph Matas Library maintains the photographs, busts, portraits, diplomas and other memoribilia, including personal artifacts belonging to Dr. Matas in its historical collections. The Matas collection of medical books and journals also became part of the Matas Library's collection.

For more information on the life and times of Dr. Matas, please refer to Rudolph Matas; a biography of one of the great pioneers of surgery by Isidore Cohn, M.D., (published by Doubleday, 1960) and "1900-1909, The Warriors against Disease", Times-Picayune, Friday, December 31, 1999, Section H-3.

The Bibliography of Rudolph Matas, MD was compiled by staff members of the Rudolph Matas Library (PDF)

World War II: Tulane Unit 24

In 1917 the 24th General was activated as a World War I unit. The same banner of the 24th General Hospital was reactivated on July 15. 1942. There were 42 medical doctors, eight dentists, 110 nurses, 500 enlisted men and 10 medical administrators. Dr. Walter C. Royals, (M,1917) took command of the unit and a lieutenant colonel. Fort Benning was the 24th General's base of operation until August 8, 1943 when the unit left for Bizerti, Tunsia, where they opened a hospital. They cared for wounded from the invasion of Italy until May 31, 1944. On July 21, 1944 they set up a hospital in Grosseto, Italy where they treated wounded of the Fifth Army until September 15, 1944.
Rudolph Matas Library's General Hospital Unit 24 Collection includes artifacts, flags, photographs, and signs from the "Tulane Unit" during its service in WWII. The 24th General Hospital in World War II digital collection is also available via the Tulane Digital Library.