Warner Wells collection, 1945-1972

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Wells, Warner, 1913-1991 and History of Medicine Collection (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library)
Drafts and other preparatory materials for the publication of Hiroshima Diary, originally written in Japanese by Dr. Michihiko Hachiya and translated and edited into English by Dr. Warner Wells and Dr. Neal Tsukifuji in 1955. The collection also includes clippings and press coverage of the book's publication; a scroll painted by Shuka Takahashi; and miscellaneous printed materials discussing Hiroshima.
4.5 Linear Feet (1 records storage box; 1 boxed scroll; 1 volume; 1 oversize folder)
Materials in English and Japanese
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The bulk of the collection consists of holograph and typescript drafts of Hiroshima Diary and its earlier iterations. Early versions are holograph copies prepared in Japanese by Michihiko Hachiya or his wife, Yaeko Hachiya. English translations initially titled as Hiroshima Atom Bomb Gossip later evolved to the 1955 galleys for Hiroshima Diary.

The collection also includes several disbound folios of press clippings and comments following the volume's publication; assorted stray correspondence from Hachiya; photographs from Hiroshima, including the city center and victims, as well as of Hachiya's hospital; some assorted Japanese publications about Hiroshima with manuscript English captions or other annotations; and a scroll depicting the bombing, sent to Hachiya by his friend Shuka Takahashi in 1945.

Biographical / historical:

Warner Wells (1913-1991) was a Durham native and Duke alumnus, earning his B.A. and M.D. and then working as a resident in the surgery department between 1943 and 1949. He served in the U.S. Army as a neurosurgeon from 1944 to 1946.

Following World War II, Wells traveled to Hiroshima as part of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission to learn about radiation injuries and illness. His work there led to ongoing research and interest in Japanese culture, and he began to learn Japanese. While on the ABCC, Wells met Dr. Michihiko Hachiya, a physician at the Hiroshima Communications Hospital. Hachiya's diary about the immediate aftermath of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, including the activities of him and his wife, Yaeko, was published serially in Teishin Igaku, a Japanese medical journal. Hachiya shared the original diary with Wells, who worked on a translation with the help of Dr. Neal Tsukifuji. The diary was initially titled Hiroshima Atom Bomb Gossip.

The translation was published by University of North Carolina Press in 1955, the same year the Dr. Wells moved to UNC as a member of their surgical faculty.

Warner Wells was married to Rebecca Atzrodte and the couple had five children. He died in 1991.

Acquisition information:
The Warner Wells Collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a transfer from the Medical Center Library in 2011 and as a transfer from the Rubenstein Library's History of Medicine print backlog in 2022.
Custodial history:

The Warner Wells Collection was donated the the Medical Center Library in 1975 by Dr. and Mrs. Warner Wells.

Processing information:

Processed by RL and Medical Center Library staff. Updated by Meghan Lyon, November 2017.

Updated to add accession 2022-0154, Leah Tams, November 2022.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

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], Warner Wells Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.