History of Medicine

Historical remembrances of Dr. Mario E. Ramirez, M.D.

Two interviews with Dr. Mario E. Ramirez, eminent South Texas physician. Dr. Ramirez established the first hospital in Starr County and later helped establish Starr County Memorial Hospital in 1975. Dr. Ramirez held many positions of leadership during his long and varied career, including Starr County Judge, U.T. System Board of Regents, and Vice President of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The Library at the Regional Academic Health Center at Harlingen has been named for Dr. Ramirez.

The following video interview (approximately 60 minutes) was recorded in 2011:

The following audio interview (approximately 95 minutes) was recorded in 2007:

History of Medicine

History of Medicine Banner featuring historical anatomical models

Collection Overview

The Health Science Center Libraries have begun to digitize selected works of unique historical importance from the P.I. Nixon Historical Library. The Digital Archive’s History of Medicine Collection consists of rare books, photographs, and a variety of manuscripts. These works have been digitized to preserve, promote, and share historically significant resources for scholarly research.


Books from the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

Select books from the P.I. Nixon Historical Library have been digitized and added to the library’s Digital Archives. Many of these rare books are historically significant and unique in nature.

Hurricane Beulah

A collection of photographs documenting the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah, which made landfall near the mouth of the Rio Grande River as a Category 3 hurricane on September 20, 1967. Hurricane Beulah caused extensive damage across South Texas, and left 10,000 refugees stranded for several weeks. Dr. Mario E. Ramirez was the only physician in the area, and was instrumental in the initial recovery process. The Hurricane Beulah project documents the people, and places that were damaged.

Louis Lapicque Papers

A collection of professional papers, research notebooks, and personal manuscripts of renowned, early 20th-century French physiologist Louis Lapicque. Louis Lapicque was a pioneer in the field of neural excitability. One of his main contributions was to propose the integrate-and-fire model of the neuron in an article published in 1907. This model is still one of the most popular models in computational and mathematical neuroscience. The Lapicque concepts of excitability and nerve transmission form a part of the basic framework of modern neurophysiology.

Banner Image: “Anatomy Studies”Anatomia chirurgica, cile istoria anatomica dell’ossa, emuscoli del corpo umano, Bernardino Genga, 1687.

Hurricane Beulah Collection

Photograph of a woman and a car on a flooded street during Hurricane Beulah

About the Hurricane Beulah Collection

View the Beulah Photograph Collection

A large portion of the Ramirez collection documents the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah which made landfall near the mouth of the Rio Grande River as a Category 3 hurricane on September 20, 1967. Beulah caused extensive damage across South Texas and neighboring communities across the U.S. — Mexico border. On the evening of September 21, approximately 14,000 refugees from Camargo, Tamaulipas crossed the border and entered Roma and Rio Grande City seeking food, shelter, and medical care. It is documented that in under nine hours, the population of these communities more than doubled.

For several weeks, Dr. Ramirez worked with volunteers from the local community, UT Medical Branch in Galveston, Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio and the U.S. Army in the medical response to this crisis. It was during this time that Dr. Ramirez had the opportunity to lead President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Governor John Connally on a tour of the area striken by the hurricane, bringing national attention to this natural disaster. For his leadership and rise to action, Dr. Ramirez was cited by the Surgeon General William H. Stewart in 1967.

Dr. Ramirez kept an extensive journal of his experiences leading the health care response to Hurricane Beulah in Starr County. Over 135 photographs and 185 pages of letters, newspaper clippings, and journal entries document the efforts of the medical team, the state and federal response, and the overall aftermath of this natural disaster.

Photographs document how emergency clinics were organized and managed and portray the use of make-shift equipment in the absence of standard medical supplies. In addition, text-based portions of this collection document how disaster planning and recovery procedures in Texas changed after Hurricane Beulah due to information provided by Dr. Ramirez and the medical response team in Starr County to agencies such as the Texas State Department of Health and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Due to growing national attention toward emergency preparedness and disaster response, the portion of the collection devoted to the Hurricane Beulah disaster response is of significant historical and informational value.

Photograph of Dr Ramirez aith a nurse

Learn more about the life and work of Dr. Mario E. Ramirez

John Calhoon, MD, Experiences of a Congenital Heart Surgeon

In February, the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library Lecture Series welcomed John Calhoon, MD, to speak on the history of heart surgery and his experiences as a congenital heart surgeon. Recounting his experiences a boy learning by his surgeon father’s side, Dr. Calhoon described how he is able to pass on the knowledge and wisdom gained from many of these formative experiences to his students and those who will become our future surgeons. After hearing a thorough review of the history of modern heart surgery and enjoying many humorous and touching stories from Dr. Calhoon’ s career, the lecture audience sat rapt with attention as he ended his presentation with a video of his ground-breaking operation on the heart of a 2-day-old infant.

Dr. Calhoon obtained his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas in 1981. He is board certified in Thoracic Surgery and Congenital Cardiac Surgery. He joined the group in 1989 and is professor and founding chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

His current interests include complex congenital heart surgery, heart and lung transplantation, complex adult cardiac surgery, the Ross procedure, less invasive cardiac surgery, and improving education and patient care. Nationally, he has served as President of the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association and Secretary of the Southern Thoracic Surgery Association.

He is currently president of the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, a member of the Joint Council on Thoracic Surgery Education Board, an at-large director of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and has served as chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgeons. Locally, he has been chairman of the Dominion Country Club and president of the local American Heart Association affiliate. He is a founder and board member of HeartGift San Antonio, an organization that sponsors charitable lifesaving congenital heart repair for children around the world.

Next in the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library lecture series is Anti-Vax: 19th Century Insights into a Modern Healthcare Issue, Speaker: Jacob Canfield (School of Medicine) on Wednesday March 4th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the Howe Conference Room, 5th floor of Briscoe Library. Please register here.





Korean Nursing Students Visit the Nixon Historical Library

On Monday April 15, 2019, visiting nursing students and faculty from Korea toured the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. Their visit was part of an exchange program through the School of Nursing. Several works from the rare book collection were on display, including Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing (1859), Micrographia (1667) by Robert Hooke, Darwin’s Origins of Species (1859), and Our Army Nurses (1895) by Mary A. Gardner Holland. Also on display were several historical medical instruments, including an amputation and bloodletting kit.

For more information about the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library or to schedule a visit, contact Andrea N. Schorr at schorr@uthscsa.edu or (210) 567-2403.

Library’s Historical Collection Featured in Campus Magazine

Check out the latest issue of the Mission magazine, to see a featured article about the treasures of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. The P.I. Nixon Library is located on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library and is home to several famous historical works including: De Humani Corporis Fabrica, known as the first scientifically accurate textbook of anatomy, by Andreas Vesalius; Natural History of Teeth by John Hunter; and Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery, by Charles Bell to name a few.

To view the article click here.

The Nixon Library is used by students, faculty, and staff, but has also been a resource to local and global communities. Most recently we have had visitors from Japan and Mexico.

Visitors are welcome and tours are available. For more information contact Andrea N. Schorr, Head of Resource Management at (210) 567-2403 or schorr@uthscsa.edu.

P.I. Nixon Library website: https://library.uthscsa.edu/2011/11/nixon-library/

Medical Instruments Exhibit


Ever wonder what types of instruments were used to treat ailments during the early ages of medicine? Check out the new library exhibit Tools of the Trade and find out. The exhibit features antique medical instruments from the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. In this collection you will find items such as a scarificator and cupping device. Both were used during the 19th century in a process called bloodletting, which treated conditions such as fever, anemia, and mental illness. Also included in this exhibit is a Spencer Monocular microscope, produced by the first American microscope manufacturer Charles A. Spencer. Other items in this collection include a urine testing kit, a blood transfusion kit, and an ophthalmological lens set used for eye exams.

The Tools of the Trade exhibit is located on the main floor of the Briscoe Library. This exhibit will be ongoing, but may be removed temporarily for special events. Special Collections staff will rotate the selection of instruments periodically, so check back for new items.

Questions about this exhibit? Contact Special Collections staff at SpecialCollections@uthscsa.edu

Membership Records for the Bexar County Medical Society

The Collection

Portrait of Dr. George Graham Watts, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, with a thick, bushy mustache and beard, wearing a suit, tie, and monocle and holding a top hat.

Picture of George Graham Watts MD, specialist in obstetrics/gynecology. Born Feb. 4, 1851 in London. Graduated from Bonn University in Germany and moved to San Antonio in 1882.

The University Archives houses historical records from the Bexar County Medical Society, including old membership records and photographs of physicians. This online collection consists of selected membership applications for 157 physicians born 1910 or earlier whose photographs were available. The records provide valuable information for genealogists and medical historians as they list education and training, family members, birth place, etc. The records were digitized through a grant from the University of North Texas and may also be browsed through the Portal to Texas History.

The Members

View Members A-L


View Members M-Z


Nixon Library Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago the Bexar County Medical Society gifted a collection of rare and significant medical historical books to the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio, now known as UT Health San Antonio. The collection originally belonged to distinguished San Antonio physician Dr. Pat Ireland Nixon, who was the founder of the Bexar County Medical Society Library in 1919. Today, the collection is named after Dr. Nixon in honor of his tireless efforts to build it, and is housed in the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, located on the 5th floor of Briscoe Library.

Over the years, the Nixon Library collection has drawn campus-wide, local, and world-wide interest. This interest has evolved into programming and events that focus on the origins of healthcare and their impact on the future of medicine. Today the Nixon Library continues its legacy of preservation, promotion, and engagement through the tireless efforts of the Briscoe Library and the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Library Board.

For more information about the Nixon Library visit libguides.uthscsa.edu/specialcollections

Check out the Treasures Blog for more historical anecdotes and announcements about the Nixon Library as we celebrate this momentous year!

Nursing Faculty from Mexico Visit the Nixon Historical Library

On Friday, May 17, 2019 nursing faculty from Mexico toured the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. Several works from the rare book collection were on display, including Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing (1859), Ophthalmodouleia (1583) by Georg Bartisch, Anatomical Tables of the Practice of Midwifery (1754) by William Smellie , and De Medicina (1481) by Aulus Cornelius Celsus. Also on display were photographs from the Physicians and Surgeons Hospital Training School for Nurses in San Antonio, which opened its doors in the early 1900’s but was closed in the 1960’s.  Photographs from the early years of the School of Nursing were also on display.

For more information about the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library or to schedule a visit, contact Andrea N. Schorr at schorr@uthscsa.edu or (210) 567-2403.