Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library, John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center

Ernst William Bertner, MD papers; 1907-1978; MS 002

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Bertner, Ernst William
Title: Ernst William Bertner, MD papers
Abstract: The Ernst W. Bertner, MD papers document the life, career, and leadership of Dr. Ernst W. Bertner, who was one of the founders and first president (1945 - 1950) of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He was also the acting director for the first four years of the existence of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Bertner was active in leading many medical organizations and institutions in the first half of the 20th century in Texas and in the nation. These papers provide information about his life, including his service in World War I, his contributions to medical organizations, such as the Texas Medical Association and the American Cancer Society, and to the development of the Texas Medical Center and its institutions. The collection is 6.5 cubic feet in size and materials are in good condition.
Identification: MS 002
Quantity: 6.5 cubic feet (10 boxes)
Location: Texas Medical Center Library, McGovern Historical Center. 1133 John Freeman Blvd, Houston, TX 77030. phone: 713.799.7899
Language: English
Repository: John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library

Biographical Note

Dr. Ernst William Bertner was born at Colorado City, Texas, August 18, 1889. After graduating from the local high school and the New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell, New Mexico, he entered the Medical Branch of the University of Texas, Galveston, receiving his MD in 1911.

Following his graduation, he took intern and residency training at the Willard Parker Hospital, Saint Vincent's Hospital and the Manhattan Maternity Hospital, all in New York City. He came to Houston in July, 1913, where he engaged in practice until World War I, when he enlisted in the Medical Corps.

He was assigned to the British Army, and went overseas in July, 1917. In March, 1918, he was transferred to the American Expeditionary Force, and assigned to Headquarters Medical and Surgical Consultants at Newfchateau, France.

Dr. Bertner had a varied and exciting career in France and served actively on most of the front lines. He was wounded by shrapnel and confined to a hospital for a short period of time. He was soon returned to duty. At one time he was caught in one of the famous German pincers movements and was one of the few surviving Medical Officers.

He was discharged from the Army in June, 1919, at Camp Dix, New Jersey with the rank of Major. The following month he resumed his practice in Houston. In May 1921, he went to Baltimore, Maryland, for post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins Hospital, in surgery, gynecology, and urology. He resumed practice in Houston in May 1922, and since that time limited his work to surgery and gynecology.

He was married at St. Louis, November 30, 1922, to Miss Julia Williams, daughter of the late W.E. Williams formerly General Manager of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad in Texas.

Dr. Bertner was always an active member of organized medicine, in the county, state and national organizations and served as seventy-second president of Texas State Medical Association. He served as President of the Harris County Medical Society, President of the Post Graduate Medical Assembly of South Texas, President of the Texas Surgical Society, and President of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He was State Counsellor and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was a member of the American Medical Association, American Urological Association, American Gynecological Association, Central Association of Gynecologists, and Interurban Gynecological Society.

Dr. Bertner was active in hospital organization, having formerly been Chief of Staff of Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston, and very active in building the first unit of that institution. Later, he became identified with Hermann Hospital and did much towards the development of the institution, where he served as Chief of Staff. He was also on the Surgical Staff of Memorial Hospital and Southern Pacific Hospital in Houston.

He served as Vice-Chairman of the Houston Board of Health and Executive Committeeman of the Texas Social Hygiene Association. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Houston, a 32nd degree Mason, Knight Templar, Shriner and Knight Commander of the Court of Honor of the Scottish Rite, and a member of the Houston Club, Ramada Club, and Houston Country Club.

Dr. Bertner was one of the founders of the Texas Medical Center and was its first president from 1945-1950. He was named by the University of Texas as acting director of the M.D. Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research when that institution was conceived. He was responsible for the professional organization and the operation of the hospital for the first four years of its existence. He served as professor and chairman of the department of gynecology for the Baylor College of Medicine since its establishment in Houston from 1943 until his death in 1950.

During World War II he was in command of the Emergency Medical Service of the Office of Civilian Defense, and received a Presidential Citation for this service.

Dr. Bertner was a past Vice-President of the American Cancer Society and served on its Board for several years. He was chairman of the Executive Committee of the Texas Division and received the American Cancer Society award for distinguished service in cancer control in 1949. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Houston Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Citizen's Committee for Reorganization of the Executive Branch of the Government, an outgrowth of the Hoover Commission Report.

Dr. Bertner died July 28, 1950 in Houston following a two year battle with cancer. He was survived by his wife, Julia Williams Bertner, two sisters and a niece.

Scope and Contents

The Ernst W. Bertner, MD papers (MS002) is 6.5 cubic feet and consists of seven documents boxes and two oversize boxes. It contains biographical information, personal and professional correspondence, speeches, certificates, official appointments, newsclippings, scrapbooks, photographs, audiovisual materials, and realia that detail the personal life, professional activities, and leadership of Dr. Ernst W. Bertner in Houston and the Texas Medical Center. The materials are in good condition.


This collection is arranged into the following series:
Series I. Personal, 1917-1968
Series II. Professional Activiities: M. D. Anderson Hospital, 1918-1983
Series III. Professional Activities: Texas Medical Center, 1935-1967
Series IV. Addendum, 1908-1978
Series V. Oversize Certificates and Appointments, 1913-1950
Series VI. Scrapbooks, 1938-1976

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Bertner, Ernst William--Archives
Adair, Frank
Anderson, R. B.
Anderson, Sol
Angly, Edward
Arnold, Joseph P.
Barnett, Susan "Sue"
Bates, William B.
Calhoun, C. A.
Clark, Roy Lee
Cookey, R. T.
Cooley, Mary
Cooley, Ralph Clarkson
Cullen, Hugh Roy
Cullen, Lillie Cranz
Cullen, Thomas S.
Dallas (valet and chauffeur to the Bertners)
Freeman, John
Gates, Charles S.
Hanselman, Anna
Hauschka, Theodore Spaeth
Jolly, Robert
Jones, Jeese Holman
Karnaky, Karl John
Kelly, Howard Atwood
Long, Crawford W.
Macon, Don
Morton, Barney B.
Moursand, Dean
Naylor, Julia Williams Bertner
Nesbit, Wellwood
Oldman, Dudley Y.
Reimann, Stanley P.
Rivici, Emanual
Schlenk, F.
Seybold, William
Sheperd, R. A.
Smith, A. Frank
Smith, Frank Smith
Stoval, W. D.
Talbot, Barry
Wilkins, H. M.
Young, Hugh H.
Alpha Theta
Baylor College of Medicine
Baylor University
Bertner Foundation
Field Army News
Harris County Medical Society
Houston Chamber of Commerce
Houston Fat Stock Show
Houston Press
Instituto de Biologia
Kiwanis Club
KPRC Radio
M. D. Anderson Hospital
Methodist Hospital
New Mexico Military Institute
Pan American World Airways Inaugural
Rice University
Southern Medical Association
St. Luke's Hospital
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
Texas Board of Medical Examiners
Texas Cancer Triangle
Texas Centennial Exposition
Texas Medical Center
Texas Medical Center Library
Texas State Journal of Medicine
Texas Surgical Society
The Editorial Press Board
University of Texas Board of Regents
University of Texas School of Dentistry
University of Texas Medical Branch

Related Material

Additional information on Dr. Bertner can be found in the Papers of William D. Seybold, M.D. (MS004) and the Papers of R. Lee Clark, M.D. (MS070).

Separated Material

Several photographs were withdrawn from the collection and transferred to the Graphic Works Collection. See Bertner in Subjects Physicians and Seybold in Donors.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

This collection was accessioned and processed in three distinct periods of donation.

In 1974 and 1975, Mrs. Julia Williams Bertner Naylor and William D. Seybold, MD donated papers to the Archive in 1974 and 1975. The Collection was organized by Randy Sparks in 1983.

In 2006, papers were added to this Collection from the R. Lee Clark, MD papers (MS070). At that time a series of correspondence and professional papers was added and the other series numbers were adjusted. Other than some rearrangement of plaques for storage purposes, the order of the Collection was maintained in its 1983 format. Additionally, in 2015 two phonograph records were transferred from R. Lee Clark, MD papers (MS070), Series 10, Historical Information Related to M. D. Anderson Hospital, for better discoverability and greater relevance to the creator. The content of the records were digitally transferred in 2004 and 2005. The optical discs are located with the original materials in oversize.

In 2013, Dr. Bertner's great niece, Julie Thurmond, donated materials to the Archive. Most of the materials were placed in a new series, Addendum. Some items from this accession were incorporated into Series I and Series V in order to be housed with similar personal and oversized objects. The arrangement of the collection was largely maintained from its previous formats. Series titles were changed to provide more appropriate description of the materials. Series numbers were adjusted to accommodate accessioned materials.

Preferred Citation

Ernst W. Bertner, MD Papers, Manuscript Collection No. 2, John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library

Processing Information

The collection was reviewed for duplicate materials and to establish or re-establish the order. Duplicate reprints were discarded. Paperclips and most other binding material were removed. When necessary, materials were interleaved with archival bond or put into mylar envelopes. Some articles and reports on acidic paper were copied onto archival bond and then discarded. Legal documents folded and housed in letter-sized folders were unfolded and the letter-sized folders replaced with legal-sized folders. Staples and paper clips were removed from the items in Series IV: Addendum. Formerly stapled and paperclipped items were interleaved together to preserve the original order of the documents. Artifacts were placed in acid-free envelopes within document boxes. Oversize materials were placed in oversize boxes for flat storage.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I. Personal 1917-1968

This series contains biographical information, obituaries, documents from his World War I service, personal correspondence including letters to Julia Williams, memorials, pages from scrapbooks and memorabilia.
Box Folder
1 1 Brief Biography of Bertner; 1945
2 Correspondence from Karnaky, Karl John to EW Bertner (About Bertner Resignation from MD Anderson); 1946
3 The Field Army News; Article About American Cancer Society Tenth Anniversary Assembly; 1946
4 Texas Cancer Triangle; Texas Triangle of Leadership; 1949
5 Memorandum of Dr. Bertner's Illness; 1950
6 Obituaries Published in a Variety of Journals and Magazines; 1950
7 Funeral Program; 1950
8 Tributes; 1950-1954
9 New Mexico Military Institute "Sally Port" Newsletter and Graduation Program, 1947-1950
10 Correspondence, Memorabilia, Military Communications, and Clippings from World War I; 1917-1919
11 Correspondence from Bertner, EW to Julia Williams Prior to Their Marriage; 1920-1922
12 Programs; Stag Dinner Hosted by Dr. Ralph Cooley and Barney B. Morton; 1922
13 Correspondence from Wilkins, HM to EW Bertner about MD Anderson Hospital Dedication
14 Correspondence from Anderson, Sol to EW Bertner About Farm in Waller County
15 Correspondence from Adair, Frank E. and Roy Lee Clark to EW Bertner, 1949
16 Correspondence and Letter of Support Between EW Bertner and His Colleagues, 1950
17 Correspondence; Greeting Card and Wedding Invitation to Bertner, Julia From Mr. and Mrs. Frank Chesley Smith; undated
18 Correspondence to Bertner, Julia from The Editorial Press Board About American Biographies: 1951
19 Correspondence; Letters of Condolence to Bertner, Julia; 1950-1951
20 Correspondence to Bertner, Julia (Mrs. Ed Naylor) From Mary Cooley; Letter from Barry Talbot with Remembrance of Dr. Bertner: 1968
21 Pamphlets and Correspondence About Masonic Honors and Bertner's Appointment as Knight Commander;1947
22 Scrapbook (Pages Only); 1932-1935
23 Commencement Program Baylor University and Commencement Address University of Texas, Galveston; 1943
24 Correspondence; Letter from Jolly, Robert to EW Bertner About Appointment as Chief of Hermann Staff; 1935
25 Correspondence; Telegrams About Texas Medical Center Dedication; 1935
26 Correspondence; Telegram abut Pan American World Airways Inaugural Flight to Mexico; 1946
27 Memorabilia; Registration Certificates, Driver's License; Business Cards and Rail Passes; 1942-1950
28 Memorabilia; Poem "To the Nurses- Upon Leaving St. Luke's" by Edward Angly; undated
29 Program; Houston Chamber of Commerce Centennial; Bertner Listed Under New Directors Recently Elected; 1940
30 Program; Texas Centennial Exposition Banquet for Jesse Holman Jones; 1936
31 Program and Clippings; The Methodist Hospital Appreciation Dinner for Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen and the Cullen Fiftieth Anniversary; 1948, 1953
32 Pamphlet; "Two Texas Patriots" by Hugh H. Young; 1940
33 Article; "Crawfrod W. Long: The Pioneer in Ether Anesthesia by Hugh H. Young; 1942
34 Pamphlet; "Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly" by Thomas S. Cullen; Print of Kelly Portrait Autographed by Thomas S. Cullen
35 Correspondence; Donations to Texas Medical Center in Memorium for EW Bertner; 1950
36 Pamphlets; Texas Agricultural Experiment Station; 1935,1945
37 Clippings; Book Review of The Life of Sir William Osler by Harvey Cushing; 1925
Box Folder
2 1 Artifact; Silver Case; undated
2 Artifacts; Leather Wallet; Engraved Chain; Clover Cufflink; undated
3 Artifact; Address Book; undated
4 Artifact; Black Leather Billfold; undated
5 Artifact; Brown Leather Billfold; undated
6 Book; Fischerisms; 1937
7 Lockets with EW Bertner Photograph; undated
8 Key to Rice Hotel Suite 755; undated
9 Passport and WWI Badge; 1937
10 Artifact; Alpha Kappa Kappa Pin; undated
11 Artifact; Plaque; undated

Series II. Professional Activities: M. D. Anderson Hospital 1918-1983

This series contains material transferred from MS070 Papers of R. Lee Clark. Included are interviews, speeches, articles and correspondence by and about Dr. Bertner. Much of the material is research for biographical articles and publications after Bertner’s death, including transcripts and notes from interviews with Dr. Bertner’s colleagues and his widow, Julia Williams Naylor. This series also includes documents relating a Medical Goodwill Trip to evaluate cancer research conducted by Dr. Emanuel Rivici in Mexico City.
Box Folder
3 1 Frontmatter for The Bertner Legacy, 1974
2 Turst Indenture; Bertner Foundation, 1950
3 Draft; Vignette by Julia Williams Bertner Naylor, 1983
4 Memorandum; John Freeman Interview by W.D. Seybold; 1971
5 Transcript; Anna Hanselman Interview by W.D. Seybold; 1970
6 Transcript; Julia Naylor Interview by Don Macon; 1973
7 Research on Life of Bertner; undated
8 Invitations; Graduation Exercises at University of Texas School of Dentistry; 1948-1950
9 Invitation; Houston Fat Stock Show; 1949
10 Clipplings; Photocopies of Obituaries; 1950
11 Press Release by Sue Barnett Announcing EW Bertner's Death; 1950
12 Address by EW Bertner to Kiwanis Club, 1946
13 Address; Citation Read by Dean Moursund at Baylor in Honor of EW Bertner; 1950
14 Clippings; Photocopies of Articles and Letter from WWI; 1918
15 List of Speeches and Papers by EW Bertner; undated
16 Biographical Sketches of EW Bertner; 1950
17 KPRC Radio Broadcast by EW Bertner; 1945
18 Newsletter; The Pup Tent; New Mexico Military Institute; 1947
19 Presidential Address to the Texas Surgical Society by William D. Seybold; 1971
20 Chairman's Address by EW Bertner to the Southern Medical Association; 1940
21 Address by EW Bertner at the Dedication of the Texas Medical Center; Reprinted from the Texas State Journal of Medicine; 1946
22 Memorandum; WD Seybold Conversation with Dr. Charles S. Gates; 1971
23 Memorandum; Dr. Dudley Y. Oldham Interview by WD Seybold; 1971
24 Biographical Sketches of EW Bertner; 1945
25 Biographical Sketches of EW Bertner; undated
26 Address; Fourth Annual Symposium on Fundamental Cancer Research; MD Anderson Hospital; 1950
27 Transcript of R.A. Sheperd Intervew by Don Macon; 1974
28 Correspondence Between EW Bertner and Susan Barnett About the Texas Medical Center; 1946-1950
29 Correspondence About the Texas Medical Center; 1946-1952
30 Transcripts of Speeches by EW Bertner; 1938-1950
31 Articles; Medical Papers by EW Bertner; 1936
32 Address; New Mexico Military Institute Graduation; 1947
Box Folder
4 1 Correspondence Between EW Bertner and Colleagues About Dr. Emanual Rivici; 1941-1946
2 Correspondence From Calhoun, C.A. to EW Bertner About Instituto de Biologia; 1944
3 Report on Medical Goodwill Trip; 1945
4 Review of DR. Emmanuel Rivici Mauscripts by F. Schlenk; 1944
5 Memorandum from Emmanuel Rivici About Cancer Treatment; 1944
6 Journal Articels by Emmanuel Rivici; 1943-1944
7 Manuscripts About Cancer Treatment by Emmanual Rivici; 1940-1944
8 Pamphlet; The Great Southerner; 1944
9 Report on Emmanuel Rivici by R. T. Cookey, Wellwood Nesbit, and W.D. Stoval; 1945
10 Receipt for Travel by EW Bertner; 1945
11 Report on Texas Medical Center; undated
12 Roll Call for Staff Meeting; undated
Box Folder
OV 068 AVA.MS002.001 Phonograph Record. Passing in Review, M. D. Anderson Hospital Blood Bank, 1946
AVA.MS002.002 Phonograph Record. Dr. E. W. Bertner Addresses the 4th Symposium of Cancer Research, 1950

Series III. Professional Activities: Texas Medical Center 1935-1967

This series contains clippings and ephemera dealing with the establishment of the Texas Medical Center. It also contains awards, publications, and programs that highlight Dr. Bertner’s medical career and accomplishments.
Box Folder
4 13 Clippings; Texas Medical Center; 1945-1950
14 Program; Dedicatory Dinner for Texas Medical Center; 1946
15 Speech by W.B. Bates for the Kiwanis Club; 1951
16 Budget for the Texas Medical Center; 1961
17 Program for the Dedication for the MD Anderson Hospital; 1944
18 Clippings, Correspondence, and Programs for the Bertner Foundation Award; 1951-1962
19 Article; "The Texas Medical Center, Inc"; The Centaur of Alpha Kappa Kappa; 1958
20 Article, "Dr. EW Bertner Was Guiding Force in Creation of MD Anderson Hospital," Harris County Medical Society; 1961
21 Frontmatter of Journal; Medical Records and Annals; Herman Hospital Issue; 1967
22 Journal ; Texas State Journal of Medicine; 1938
23 Journal; Texas State Journal of Medicine; 1946
Box Folder
5 1 Correspondence ; Resolution of Thanks to EW Bertner From the University of Texas Board of Regents; 1946
2 Program; Laying of the Cornerstone; Methodist Hospital; 1950
3 Articles by Stanley P. Reimann About Medical Education; 1944
4 Address by Theodore Spaeth Hauschka on The Health Field; 1944
5 Program from the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Postgraduate Medical Assembly of South Texas; 1935
6 Clippings; Pioneer Medical Men; The Houston Press; 1955
7 Pamphlet; Rice University Looks Forward; 1946
8 Resolutions in Honor of EW Bertner; 1950
9 Resolutions in Honor of EW Bertner (bound); 1950
10 Certificates and Awards; 1921-1949

Series IV. Addendum 1908-1978

This series was added to the collection in 2013 through a gift by Dr. Bertner’s niece, Julie Thurmond. The series contains correspondence, publications, and ephemera along with photographs that document Dr. Bertner’s personal and professional life.
Box Folder
5 11 Clippings (Photocopies); 1937-1978
12 Pamphlet; Houston; Houston Chamber of Commerce; 1944
13 Bulletin; Harris County Medical Society; 1972
14 Manual; MD Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research; 1945
15 Publication; Texas Surgical Society: 1915-1936; 1936
16 Publication; Texas Cancer Bulletin; 1948
17 Publicatoin; Tumor Topics; 1950
Box Folder
6 1 Memorandum from Baylor College of Medicine About Ernst William Bertner Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology; 1972
2 Correspondence; Personal; 1922-1949
3 Address in Honor of Dr. Joseph P. Arnold; undated
4 Address in Honor of EW Bertner; 1951
5 Editorial by R. B. Anderson in The Texas State Journal of Medicine; 1940
6 Article by EW Bertner; The Doctor's Place in Present War; 1942
7 Program for Breaking Ground of MD Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research; 1950
8 Photocopied Article; A History of Alpha Theta Chapter; The Centaur; 1951
9 Souvenir Program for Dr. EW Bertner; Luncheon in Honor of Jesse Holman Jones; 1936
10 Pamphlet; The Cullens: Two Great Texans; University of Houston; 1949
11 Memorials to EW Bertner; 1951
12 Newsletters; The Texas Medical Center; 1952
13 Address by WB Bates on the History and Development of the Texas Medical Center; 1956
14 Outline for EW Bertner Biography; undated
15 Correspondence About the Bertner Foundation; 1967-1973
16 Correspondence; undated
17 United States Custom Declaration; 1937
18 Schedule of Fees, Harris County Medical Society; 1908
19 Report Card for EW Bertner; Texas Board of Medical Examiners; 1911
20 Vaccination Records; 1917
21 Pledge Manual for Alpha Kappa Kappa; 1943
22 Annual Report for the Texas Medical Center Library; 1962
23 Booklet; Fight Cancer Commemorative Stamp; 1970
24 Certificate of Honorable Discharge for EW Bertner; United States Army; 1919
25 Program; Dinner in Honor of Dr. and Mrs. EW Bertner; SS Leviathan; 1928
26 Souvenir Program; Coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth; 1937
27 Photographs; Professional Activities; undated
28 Photographs; Personal Activities; undated
29 Photographs; Portraits; undated
30 Correspondence from R. Lee Clark to Julia Naylor About Bertner Award; 1976
Box Folder
7 1 Scrapbook; Bridal Book; 1922
2 Statue (Cardboard) of Mrs. Julia Williams Bertner; undated

Series V. Oversize Certificate and Appointments 1913-1950

This series contains certificates recognizes Dr. Bertner’s appointments to various professional and social organizations.
Box Folder
OV 061 1 Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; 1919
2 Freemasons Order of Protection for Julia Williams; 1916
3 Resolution from Foundation Hospital; New Orleans; 1950
4 Texas Surgical Society; 1922
5 Baylor University; 1950
6 American Cancer Society; 1949
7 Manhattan Maternity and Dispensary; 1913
8 Honorary Member and Certificate, Shriners; 1927
9 Appointment; United States Army; 1917
10 St. Vincent's Hospital; 1913
11 Selective Service Medal; 1946
12 American Cancer Society; 1950

Series VI. Scrapbooks 1938-1976

This series contains a Texas Medical Library scrapbook and clippings from the Texas Medical Library News along with Dr. Bertner’s personal scrapbooks.
Box Folder
OV 062 1 MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute; 1976
2 Clippings; Texas Medical Center Newspaper; 1967
3 Scrapbook; 1938-1946
4 Scrapbook; 1946-1948