Louise Hortense Branscomb papers, 1864-2002 and undated

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Branscomb, Louise Hortense, 1901-
Louise Hortense Branscomb was a physician from Birmingham, Alabama, who was also heavily involved in community work and with the United Methodist Church. Her papers include diaries, medical notebooks, correspondence, and photographs documenting her and her family's activities during the twentieth century.
7.95 Linear Feet
2040 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collection includes Dr. Louise Branscomb's diaries, notebooks, correspondence, photographs, and personal papers relating to her medical career and civic service in Birmingham during the twentieth century. There is also a significant amount of material related to the Branscomb family, including correspondence and clippings from Louise's parents and siblings.

Dr. Branscomb's diaries and notebooks comprise the largest portion of the collection; they are held within the Bound Volumes Series. Her earliest diaries date from age thirteen, and continue off and on throughout her life. Along with personal diaries, Branscomb kept travel diaries documenting her various trips, including her World War II travels, Korea, China, India, Europe, Russia, Africa, and South America. Another notable portion of Volumes Series are Branscomb's medical notebooks, which she used as indices to assist her diagnoses and treatment of various illnesses. She also kept logs of her surgeries and baby deliveries. Along with Branscomb's diaries, the Volumes Series includes diaries and ledgers kept by her father, L.C. Branscomb, and her mother, Minnie Branscomb. L.C. Branscomb's notebooks log his sermons, baptisms, and travels, as well as his personal and family expenses.

The Correspondence Series has been arranged in loose chronological order, with some isolated events foldered separately. This includes courtship letters between Louise Branscomb's parents, L.C. and Minnie, as well as condolences following L.C. Branscomb's accident and death in 1930. The majority of the series are incoming letters to the Branscomb family, with only a small number of letters written by Louise.

The Family History Series is sorted by family member, including materials from Louise's parents, L.C. Branscomb and Minnie McGehee Branscomb, as well as some of her siblings: Harvie Branscomb, Richard Edwin Branscomb, Lamar Branscomb, Alline Branscomb, Emily Branscomb, Elizabeth Branscomb, Lewis Branscomb, as well as other relatives. The series also contains assorted ephemera collected by the family, including Confederate money and news clippings.

Louise Branscomb's Personal Papers Series documents her range of activities, including her travels, her medical practice, her work with the United Methodist Church, and her philanthropy to institutions like Birmingham Southern College. The series includes drafts of her speeches and writings, as well as clippings referencing her and her work. Some clippings collected by Branscomb include her annotations or reflections on the subject or event, often dating from later in her life.

The Photographs Series includes informal snapshots of the Branscomb family and their friends, as well as formal portraits of Louise Branscomb. This series also contains her various identification and membership cards.

Finally, the Oral History Series contains four audio cassettes containing an oral history conducted between September and October of 1985 in Birmingham, Ala., when Martha E. King interviewed Dr. Branscomb on behalf of the Women's Division Oral History Project for the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries. There is also correspondence, biographical information about Dr. Branscomb, as well as detailed descriptions of and an index for the interview. However, no transcript of the interview is available. Interview topics include family, education, missionary work, women's issues in the church, race relations, and Branscomb's representing the church on her travels to Africa.

Biographical / historical:

Louise Branscomb (1901-1999) was a gynecologist and surgeon from Birmingham, Alabama. She attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and opened her own practice in Birmingham in the 1930s. During World War II, she served as a major in the United States Public Health Service, and was stationed with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency in Greece from 1944-1945.

Following the war, she continued practicing medicine in Birmingham, and traveled throughout the world working in clinics and hospitals. Branscomb was also very active in the United Methodist Church, including the Methodist Board of Missions and the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. She was named as one of one hundred outstanding United Methodist Women in 1986.

Branscomb was born in 1901 to parents Lewis Capers and Minnie McGehee Branscomb, and was one of nine children in the Branscomb family. L.C. Branscomb was a pastor with appointments in several regional churches in and around Birmingham.

Acquisition information:

The Louise Hortense Branscomb Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift between 1985 and 2007.

Accession numbers included in this collection: 6-17-85, 1987-0163, 1989-0122, 1990-0045, 1995-0067, 1998-0513, 1999-0335, 2002-0226, 2002-0250, 2007-0169.

Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, March 2015.

Completed 1987-2003

Encoded by Joshua A. Kaiser

This collection is unprocessed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is restricted until 2029. Permission is required to access manuscript materials and must be requested in advance by contacting the Rubenstein Library.

Oral history interviews are restricted under a separate gift agreement, and also require permission prior to use.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Louise Hortense Branscomb Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.