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William Spencer, MD papers

  • MS 099
  • Collection
  • 1954-2009

The William Spencer, MD papers contains correspondence, financial records, grant records, building schematics, tour schedules, newspaper clippings, telegrams, financial records, academic publications, government testimony, congressional records, research, lectures, and legal records documenting the life of Dr. William Spencer.

William Spencer born on February 16, 1922 in Oklahoma City. He went to John Hopkins University for medical school and was first in his graduating class. Beginning in 1951 Dr. Spencer would lead staff at Baylor College of Medicine to address the polio epidemic. Consequently, ground-breaking research was conducted paving the way for the facility to become one of the most prominent rehabilitation facilities in the country. He would become founder of The Institute of Rehabilitation and Research, or TIRR, and the facility opened its doors on May 30, 1959. Today the hospital is officially part of the Memorial Hermann hospital system. Throughout his life Dr. Spencer would treat patients and conduct research regarding traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries, many of his patients being children or youth. Dr. Spencer in his twenty-eight years serving as TIRR’s president became known as the “Father of Modern Rehabilitation” as hospitals around the globe modeled their rehabilitation programs after TIRR (Wendler, 2009, p.16). The TIRR was a facility ahead of its time under Dr.Spencer’s leadership. After the development of personal computers, Dr.Spencer petitioned IBM to link the computers (now known as networking) at TIRR and Baylor College of Medicine.

In his nonmedical life, Dr. Spencer would tinker with a number of inventions or other projects. These engineering projects would lead him to develop the physiography, which ended up being an early version of its predecessor the EKG. Dr. Spencer was married twice, his first wife being Helen Spencer and his second wife being Jean Spencer, who had passed away before him in 2005.

Subjects: Pediatrics. The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research.

Spencer, William