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John Adriani Papers, 1925-1988
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

The collection contains little material from Adriani's youth, and none from his childhood. Most of the collection reflects Adriani's career in anesthesiology after it began to flower in the late 1940s. The great bulk of the material dates from between the 1950s and the 1980s, and it consists mostly of typed correspondence, memoranda, reports, manuscripts and printed materials. Adriani maintained a personal correspondence for many years with FDA officials, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and Congressional staff as well as with other physicians. The collection will be of use to those researching the history of anesthesiology, nurse-anesthesia, medical education, the pharmaceutical industry and its regulation by the government, hospital administration, and health-care policy and planning in mid-twentieth century America.


The Personal Series contains items on Adriani's personal life, his education and training, and highlights of his professional career. It would be valuable to the researcher interested in biographical details of Adriani's life. Among the notable items in the series are a group of family letters written by Eleanor Adriani in the early 1940s; compositions written by Adriani for his high school English classes in the mid-1920s; notes from his medical school classes in the late 1920s and early 1930s; a detailed handwritten notebook outlining the epidemiology, pathology, clinical course, and treatment of various diseases (undated, probably 1930s); an account of Adriani's surgical internship at the French Hospital in New York City (1934-36); a file of correspondence among his former residents, Glace E. Bittenbinder, Ray Parmley and John Parmley regarding plans for his fifteenth anniversary at Charity Hospital in 1955; photographs of Adriani and information on his awards. Also found in the series are press clippings and copies of articles about Adriani and his various awards, his Congressional committee testimony, his public statements, and other events.


The Research Series consists of files concerning various research projects undertaken by Dr. Adriani and others between the 1930s and the 1980s. For the most part, these projects were executed without sponsorship.

The first subseries consists of research undertaken by Adriani himself. Most significant are his introduction of saddle block anesthesia in the late 1940s, his comparative studies of topical analgesics in the 1950s, and his work on nitrous oxide exposure in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The series also contains projects carried out in the 1930s under the supervision of Emery A. Rovenstine at Bellevue, as well as a typed list of "Research in Progress or Contemplated" dated January 1, 1951. Much of the Research Series consists of informal handwritten notes, tables and graphs. Some of the files contain specific case records of named patients and have been marked [RESTRICTED PHI POLICY]; consult the manuscripts curator for access to these files. Also included in this series are files containing research of other physicians and a few "quacks," including a negative report by Dr. Adriani on a ganglionic block developed by a Dr. Soresi (1947) and correspondence on a drug which allegedly "dissolved" atherosclerosis (1968-1969). A separate subseries has been established for Adriani's investigations into acupuncture in the early 1970's and his efforts to begin a research clinic on acupuncture at Charity Hospital. Fully half the material deals with his relations with James Ching-Hwa Chang, who ran an acupuncture clinic at Charity for five months in 1974. A third subseries consists of research performed by others.


The Pharmaceutical Evaluations and Consulting Series contains material Adriani accumulated during his service as a pharmaceutical consultant to the federal government (especially to the Food and Drug Administration), to private organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and its Council on Drugs, and to private industry. The material has been separated into four different subseries: evaluation of pharmaceutical products undertaken for private companies; evaluation of and consulting on pharmaceuticals undertaken by various committees and task groups for government agencies; evaluation of and consulting on pharmaceuticals undertaken by the AMA Council on Drugs; and materials on other advisory projects undertaken by Adriani.


The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' subseries consists of correspondence with pharmaceutical manufacturers, both general and relating to specific drug products. More than twenty-five different firms are represented and perhaps forty drug products discussed. Adriani kept one set of files of general correspondence organized by manufacturer and another set organized by specific product. These have been combined, and the specific products are listed under the name of the manufacturer. Large or important files have been reorganized in forward chronological order; others have not been reorganized. Much of the correspondence is routine, but there are many letters of interest regarding research on and use of specific drugs. In light of some of his public stances, Adriani's relationship with the companies is intriguing. Some files contain case notes with specific patient names, and these have been marked [RESTRICTED PHI POLICY]. Consult the manuscripts curator regarding access.


The second subseries consists of AMA Council on Drugs materials (1968-1972). This consists of correspondence with Council members and AMA staff, agendas, administrative memoranda, and some files related to specific drug issues. Much of the material deals with the publication of an article and editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association on "The Package Insert" in 1969, the writing and publication of the AMA-Drug Evaluation books in 1971 and 1972, and the dissolution of the Council on Drugs in 1972. There are a great many interesting items relating to drug evaluation and labelling, FDA relations, and AMA in-house politics. As with other files, Adriani's own letters predominate. There is also, however, much correspondence from others, including John Ballin, Harry Dowling, Thomas Hayes, Hugh Hussey, Max Parrott, Harry Shirkey and Jean Weston.


The Government Series contains Adriani's correspondence with Louisiana state government officials (except for the correspondence directly related to Charity Hospital, located in the Charity Hospital subseries) and with federal government officials (except for the material related to the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, located in the Pharmaceutical Evaluations and Consulting series). Correspondents include Vincent Schiro, mayor of New Orleans; William J. "Billy" Guste, State of Louisiana attorney-general and state senator; Ben E. Bagert and Charles Emile Bruneau of the Louisiana state legislature; Hale Boggs, Corinne "Lindy" Boggs, Robert L. Livingston, J. Henson Moore and Henry Waxman, all of the U.S. House of Representatives; and J. Bennett Johnston Jr., Russell B. Long, Joseph M. Montoya and Gaylord Nelson, all of the U.S. Senate. Most historically significant are the materials on Adriani's Senate testimony on different occasions during the 1960s and 1970s before Senator Gaylord Nelson's Monopoly Subcommittee, testimony that made Adriani a nationwide celebrity. Here, Adriani articulated his public stances on generic drugs and on the drug industry.


Adriani belonged to many professional and public organizations. Among the most important were the Academy of Anesthesiology (President), the American Board of Anesthesiology (President), the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Louisiana Civil Service League (Board of Governors), and the Louisiana State Medical Society (Committee on Technical Services). In addition to details of intramural politics and organizational history, there are letters in this series discussing anesthesia problems, anesthesia history, pharmaceutical questions, and the nurse anesthetist issue. The ASA files include extensive correspondence related to the ASP-AANA Liaison Committee and other negotiations/discussions of nurse anesthetist issues, supplementing the material in the Nurse anesthetists series. The ASA correspondence on the Talmadge Bill deals with negotiations over physician reimbursement, Relative Value scales, and nurse anesthetist practice. Other ASA files cover medical education questions, professional issues, and the Wood Library and Museum. The American Board of Anesthesiology records are of particular interest, containing much information about planning and designing the examinations, as well as professional education and training in anesthesiology.

Records are filed alphabetically by name of organization and the more important have been reorganized in forward chronological order. In accordance with Adriani's original filing systems, this series is divided into two subseries. The first subseries, Societies and Associations, serves as the principal organization files and is arranged alphabetically by organization. It also includes correspondence with various organizations in which Adriani was interested, although not a member, such as the American Hospital Association. The second subseries, Medical Meetings, contains materials and correspondence related to meetings and presentations given by organizations not listed in the first subseries. It is arranged chronologically. The bulk of this material is routine; however, there are letters of interest scattered throughout regarding organizational politics, medical education, anesthesia problems, and general observations.


See also American College of Anesthesiologists


Adriani was a long-time friend to nurse anesthetists. He insisted, however, that the nurse anesthetist was not a substitute for an anesthesiologist; rather, he or she was a technician who carried out routine procedures under the physician's direction. In the 1980s, as nurse anesthetists and some physicians argued for a more independent role, he became increasingly hostile toward nurse anesthetists who did not "know their place" and withdrew his earlier support. He wrote extensively on the issue for publications and in private letters, and he received many letters in response. In 1983, he conducted a survey to determine whether the administration of regional anesthesia by nurse anesthetists was widespread. In 1985, he wrote a major editorial in the American Society of Anesthesiologists' Newsletter which drew both positive and negative response.


Adriani's files on medical education have been divided into three subseries. The first contains material used in his forty-year teaching career at Charity Hospital, Tulane Medical School, Louisiana State University Medical School and Loyola University's School of Dentistry. Adriani served on the faculty of both Louisiana State University and Tulane Medical School from 1941 to the end of his life, and on the faculty of Loyola University's School of Dentistry until 1971. He taught courses in anesthesiology, pharmacology, and oral surgery, among others, and also taught residents at Charity Hospital. The second subseries consists of mostly routine correspondence regarding his teaching at the schools, though the correspondence on some subjects, such as teaching films, is extensive. Correspondence between Adriani and Louisiana State University and Tulane University faculty members on subjects other than his teaching career is located in the following files in the General Correspondence series, Physicians' Correspondence subseries: Harold Albert, Raymond Boudreaux, Allen Copping, Isidore Cohn, John Finerty, Bert Glass, Thomas Hernandez, Edgar Hull, Edmund Jeansonne, Abraham Mickal, Norman Nelson, Rafael Sanchez, and Robert Sundin, all of LSU; and Oscar Creech, Theodore Drapanas, Clifford Grulee, Monte Holland, Edward Krementz, Maxwell Lapham, Francis LeTard, Norman Nelson, Robert Sparks, Walter Unglaub and John Walsh, all of Tulane. Correspondence between Adriani and faculty members at Tulane and LSU concerning the facilities at Charity Hospital in New Orleans is located in the relevant department files in the Charity Hospital subseries, Hospitals series. Letters of recommendation written by Adriani for his students can be found in the General Correspondence series.

In 1979, Adriani visited St. George's University Medical School on the Caribbean island of Grenada to lecture in pharmacology and subsequently became a member of St. George's Academic Board and Board of Trustees. His involvement with the often troubled Caribbean school is a fascinating chapter in his life and in the history of medical education, and it forms the third subseries.


This series is divided into two subseries, one devoted to Adriani's long career as an administrator and member of medical staff at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, and the second containing correspondence Adriani had with other hospitals and the Veterans Administration.

Adriani's career at state-run Charity Hospital in New Orleans lasted more than four decades. He arrived there in 1941, having been appointed the head of its Department of Anesthesia. He also organized a blood bank and became the head of the Department of Inhalation Therapy. Adriani rose quickly, becoming an assistant director of the hospital in 1950. In the 1960s, he became an associate director. Adriani resigned from his administrative positions at the hospital in 1969 when he was offered the directorship of the Food and Drug Administration's Bureau of Medicine, but returned to Charity when the offer fell through. He continued to serve at the hospital as a staff member and consultant for the last twenty years of his life. Despite the forty-five-year timespan of Adriani's involvement with the hospital, however, most of this material dates from the 1950s and 1960s.

The Charity Hospital subseries contains materials on different subjects accumulated by Adriani in his various administrative capacities at the hospital, consisting mostly of typed correspondence, memoranda and minutes. It has been divided into several subseries, and extensively documents relations between medical staff and administration. The researcher should be advised, however, that the material in the Charity Hospital subseries contains little or no data on Charity Hospital's patients except as directly relevant to Adriani's concerns.

The strength of the series is the material relating to long-range planning for Charity Hospital at New Orleans, a very large state-run facility for poor and indigent patients which found itself frequently beset by financial problems and low morale. In the 1960s, Adriani (serving as the hospital's top planning coordinator), other hospital officials, school officials and state officials planned and executed extensive renovations of the hospital. They also launched a drive to draw Charity Hospital and its affiliated medical schools (Louisiana State University and Tulane) together into one large medical complex, hoping to improve the hospital's public image.

Charity Hospital had always served as a teaching hospital to the two principal medical schools of New Orleans, Tulane and Louisiana State University (LSU). In the mid-1960s, however, both LSU and Tulane considered relocating their respective medical centers to locations outside New Orleans. This would have spelled disaster for Charity Hospital, since most of its medical staff (including Adriani) were also Tulane and LSU faculty members. In response to this threat to the hospital, hospital officials launched a major effort in the late 1960s to establish closer relations between Charity and the medical schools and to improve hospital facilities. They hired outside consultants to visit the hospital and to determine exactly what should be done to ensure further development. The most important of these was the Gulf South Research Institute (GSRI). Hospital and school officials then helped push a bill through the Louisiana state legislature in 1968 which founded and funded the Health Education Authority of Louisiana (HEAL), intended to serve as a forum in which these improvements would take place. Serving as Hospital Planning Coordinator for Expansion and Renovation during this crucial period (1966-1970) as well as the chairman of HEAL's Special Planning Committee and of Charity Hospital's Long-Range Planning Committee, Adriani spearheaded these joint initiatives. Major renovations of Charity Hospital then took place in 1968-1970, and it became the hub of the newly formed New Orleans Medical Complex. The sub-subseries on the Medical Complex contains much material on GSRI's consultant work and correspondence with hospital officials as well as on the formation of HEAL. The "Pre-Complex Relations" files showcase the evolution of plans to improve the hospital over the previous decade. There is also much correspondence with the architects hired by the hospital for the renovations (August Perez & Associates). The sub-subseries provides an exhaustive account of how one hospital transformed its long-range plans into reality. It would therefore be of great interest to those doing research on the history of public hospitals.

The files of the hospital's administrative committees also contain relevant material on hospital planning and administration. Administrative committees played a crucial role in the administration of the hospital, and Adriani belonged to many of them. These files, however, are of varying significance to the researcher: some files contain merely copies of material Adriani received in his capacity as top hospital administrator. At various times during his Charity Hospital career, Adriani chaired the Records Committee, the Long-Range Planning Committee, the Advisory Committee, the Infections Committee, and the Executive Committee's Subcommittee on Surgical Affairs. Accordingly, the files of these committees contain the most important material. They are arranged alphabetically by name of committee.


The files of the Anesthesia Department contain yet more interesting details on the recent history of anesthesia and on Adriani's role in it. While much of the material is of a routine administrative nature, there is extensive correspondence with the manufacturers of anesthesia and inhalation therapy equipment. Many of the files contain only brochures, price quotations, and similar items, but some contain material of interest relating to the development and evaluation of technology in these specialties. The most interesting and extensive files are those dealing with the Foregger Company (1955-1970), with whom Adriani worked for many years, designing and assisting in the development of anesthesia equipment. The file also contains some information on the history of the company. Large or important files have been reorganized in forward chronological order; other files have not been reorganized. In keeping with Adriani's own arrangement, records dealing with inhalation therapy equipment are filed separately.


Many of the files of this subseries contain only brochures, price quotations, and similar items, but some contain material of interest relating to the development and evaluation of technology in these specialties. The most interesting and extensive files are those dealing with the Foregger Company (1955-1970), with whom Adriani worked for many years, designing and assisting in the development of anesthesia equipment. The file also contains some information on the history of the company.


(arranged alphabeticallly by subject)


Adriani served as a consultant and expert witness on hundreds of legal cases concerning medical matters around the South and the nation, mostly during the later years of his career (1970s and 1980s). The cases vary greatly in subject matter and in importance: in one instance, the Louisiana State Racing Commission consulted Adriani on an allegedly drugged race-horse. In many other cases, however, allegations were made of malpractice on the part of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. Often the plaintiffs charged that certain anesthetic drugs themselves were dangerous, suing their manufacturers. In quite a few of the cases featured in these files, Adriani rendered his opinions in the plaintiffs' favor and against the doctors and/or drug companies involved when he believed that incompetence was evident.

Adriani's legal files would be of interest to students of the history of anesthesia. Most of the cases in which he testified stemmed from sudden operating-table deaths or permanent brain damage sustained by otherwise healthy people allegedly as a result of flaws in the manufacture and/or the administration of certain anesthetics. In the course of testifying in these cases, Adriani asserted that certain drugs (Innovar and Xylocaine being the prime examples) were dangerous and should be taken off the market. The series provides extensive documentation of Adriani's opinions on specific drugs, on medical techniques and on the actions of other doctors. Major correspondents include St. Clair Adams, Henry Alsobrook, Bernard Bagert, F. Lee Bailey, J.B. Blumenstiel, Alva C. Caine, Roy Cheatwood, Allen Eaton, Vance Ellefson, Rosalind Herschthal, H. Martin Hunley, Ralph Kaskell, John Landis, John Lansdale, Lawrence McNamara, George Papale, James Rinaman, Michael Scott, Mort Segall, Joseph W. Thomas, John Wellman and Russell Zaunbrecher.


(Arranged alphabetically by name of law firm. Only major correspondents are indexed.)


The Publications Series contains materials from another crucial aspect of Adriani's career. During his life, he wrote, co-wrote and edited hundreds of articles on anesthesiology and on other medical subjects as well as several major textbooks. The series contains a large assortment of manuscripts and reprints of Adriani's articles assembled for the researcher's convenience as well as correspondence with medical journals and publishing companies. The materials in the series offer extensive and interesting insights on relations between physicians and their publishers: one of the series' showpieces is Adriani's forty-year correspondence with Charles C. Thomas' publishing firm and later with former Charles C. Thomas employee Warren H. Green. Other prominent correspondents include the editors of such journals as Anesthesiology, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The Medical Letter, The Medical Tribune, Postgraduate Medicine and Surgery, as well as other publishing companies such as C.V. Mosby and W.B. Saunders. This series is divided into three subseries, one containing his publications-related correspondence, the second containing his reprints and the third containing his manuscripts.


Correspondence Subseries: Adriani filed this material together, but he named files in different ways: some were listed by name of publication, some by publisher, some by editor. For ease of reference, major journal files here have been filed by the journal name. Other information used by Adriani is listed on the file folder. His alphabetical order has been retained.

(Publishing correspondence arranged alphabetically by name of journal or publisher)


(arranged alphabetically by author/editor)


Reprints Subseries: In this subseries, Adriani's manuscripts are arranged according to the most recent and complete bibliography of his work found in this collection (1985). In that bibliography, Adriani's works were listed chronologically, and each of them was assigned a number. This subseries duplicates that arrangement. Dated manuscripts and reprints found that did not appear on the bibliography were also assigned a number and arranged chronologically according to their proper place in the bibliography, and they can be found in the container listing. The collection does not include all the items listed in the bibliography.

(Items are filed according to Adriani's bibliography found in 113-5. Additional publications not listed in the bibliography are found listed in this guide)


Dated manuscripts are arranged chronologically. Undated manuscripts are arranged by title.)


(Arranged by title)


(Alphabetical by title)