Name and location of repository
Level of description
Texas Heart Institute Film Collection
- 1953-1993 (Creation)
38 cubic feet (277 film reels)
Name of creator
Dr. Denton A. Cooley, the founder of the Texas Heart Institute, attended the University of Texas and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he graduated in 1944. After serving in the Army Medical Corps and studying with Lord Russell Brock in London, he returned to his hometown of Houston, Texas to teach surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in the 1950s. The Texas Heart Institute was founded on August 3, 1962 in order to research and treat cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Among many innovations developed by Cooley and his colleagues at the Institute are the first implantation of an artificial heart, the first successful heart transplant in the United States, advances in treatment of congenital defects, and a number of prostheses and implants. The Institute is part of Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the word. CHI St. Luke’s Health – Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is the Institute’s clinical partner. [Sources: Texas Heart Institute website; The Houston Review, vol. 2, no. 1, p.16-19]
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
The Texas Heart Institute Film Collection contains 277 reels of 16mm film and 86 videotapes. It consists of final distributed films as well as work prints, camera original footage, and other production elements. Video tapes of film transfers can also be found in the collection The majority of films were produced within the Texas Medical Center. This collection contains films related to heart surgery at the Texas Medical Center, primarily during the 1960s and 1970s. Films are typically instructional with brief surgical and case histories at the beginning. The films follow the surgery step-by-step with voice over narration and diagrams inserted to illustrate the process and techniques used. There is a brief follow-up at the end, sometimes including statistical information on patient outcomes for similar surgeries. Sixty-eight films have been digitized and are available for research access.
The collection documents surgeries performed by Dr. Denton Arthur Cooley and his associates in the Texas Medical Center. The collection ranges from the years 1956 to 1993 and consists of 38 cubic feet (277 film reels). It consists of 16mm composite film prints (prints with both image and soundtrack printed onto the film), 16mm optical soundtrack negatives, and 16mm and 8mm magnetic soundtracks, or magnetic tracks. All of the film prints and optical soundtracks are acetate or polyester stock. The composite prints are available in the English, French, German, and Spanish languages. Dr. Denton A. Cooley (1920-2016 ) was a pioneer in the field of heart surgery. Cooley founded the Texas Heart Institute in 1962. Cooley performed the first successful human heart transplant in 1968 and implanted the first artificial heart in man in 1969. His mentor and later colleague was Dr. Michael DeBakey (1908-2008), the cardiac surgeon who revolutionized the surgical treatment of aneurysms and performed the first successful coronary bypass in 1964. The collection occupies 38 cubic feet contains 277 film cans and boxes, some of which contain multiple reels.
Subjects: Texas Heart Institute, Denton Cooley, Heart Surgery
System of arrangement
The films have been assigned a unique reel number in the order of identification. A full inventory has been created based on these reel numbers. There is no intellectual order imposed on the collection. Digitized films have been assigned an identification number that corresponds to the original reel numbers (example, AVF-IC043-003). A film’s identification number is also the film’s digital file name (example, AVF-IC043-033.mp4).
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Materials are primarily in good condition. Some films have signs of vinegar syndrome.
Conditions governing reproduction
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Inventories are available for digitized films, video cassette transfers, and most of 277 reels. These inventories have been combined into a PDF. Ask an archivist if you need more assistance.
Uploaded finding aid
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Texas Heart Institute donated their film library to the Texas Medical Center Library in 1987. Texas Heart Institute transferred all rights of the films they produced to the Texas Medical Center Library. A few films are documentaries about Dr. Cooley produced by BBC and other third parties. Third parties retain the copyright.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
No accruals are expected for this collection.
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Digital files of 68 film reels are located in the Digital Collection Drive (DCD).
Related archival materials
- Citation: Texas Heart Institute Film Collection; IC 043; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library. Please cite the box and folder numbers where appropriate.
- Processing information: Digitization of 68 reels performed by Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI), texasarchive.org, 2016