Ernst William Bertner, MD papers

Phonograph Record. Passing in Review, M. D. Anderson Hospital Blood Bank, 1946 Phonograph Record. Dr. E. W. Bertner Addresses the 4th Symposium of Cancer Research, 1950

Identity elements

Reference code

MS 002

Level of description



Ernst William Bertner, MD papers


  • 1908-1978 (Creation)


6.5 cubic feet (10 boxes)

Name of creator


Biographical history

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.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

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.

System of arrangement

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

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Open for research.

Physical access

Materials are in good condition.

Technical access

Computer required to view digital files.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Languages of the material

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Generated finding aid

Acquisition and appraisal elements

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.

Immediate source of acquisition

Mrs. Julia Williams Bertner Naylor and William D. Seybold, MD, Julie Thurmond

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

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).

Several photographs were withdrawn from the collection and transferred to the Graphic Works Collection.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

Notes element

Specialized notes

  • 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.

Alternative identifier(s)



Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding aid prepared by Randy Sparks, 1983. Revised by M.J. Figard, 2007. Revised by Colleen Reilly, 2015.

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related places

Physical storage

  • Shelf: 1.16
  • Shelf: 1.17
  • Shelf: 4.31
  • Shelf: 6.49