Name and location of repository
Level of description
Carl F. Tessmer, MD papers
- 1945-1995 (Creation)
7.125 cubic feet (18 boxes)
Name of creator
Carl Frederick Tessmer was born in North Braddock, Pennsylvania on May 28, 1912. He received his higher education at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1933 he received his Bachelor of Science with highest honor. From 1933 to 1935, he studied medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and graduated in 1935 with a Doctor of Medicine degree. Dr. Tessmer completed a rotating internship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 1936. He served his residency in pathology at Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, 1937. In 1937, he was granted a one year fellowship in pathology, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. On August 21, 1939 he married Maxine Keller. Together they had two sons, Jon and David. Upon the completion of his fellowship Dr. Tessmer accepted a residency in pathology at Queens Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1939-1940.
Dr. Tessmer has had a twenty-three year association with the United States Armed Forces. He served in the United States Army Medical Corps, from 1940-1963 and retired with the rank of Colonel.
During the early 1940s he worked in Laboratory Services in hospitals in Hawaii and Saipan. In 1946, he traveled back to the mainland and the East coast. At the Army Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. he served as a pathologist. He also was part of Operation Crossroads with Task Force One on Bikini Island, 1946 and worked for the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, 1947.
In 1948, Dr. Tessmer was appointed the first Director of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. Dr. Tessmer's association with the program began even before its formal inception, he took part in a survey in 1946 which actually established much of the basis for the organization. This was with a distinguished pathologist Dr. Shields Warren, Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, and this included a significant amount of clinical data on A-bomb survivors, photographs and blood smears. As matters subsequently developed, he came the director of the program in Japan under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council and Atomic Energy Commission.
The Tessmer family returned to the United States in 1951. For the next three years, 1951-1954, Dr. Tessmer was the Commanding Officer for the Army Medical Research Laboratory in Fort Knox, Kentucky. After attending the Basic Radioisotopes Training Course at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies in 1954 he was appointed Chief of the Radiation Pathology Branch and Chief of the Basic Science Division for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C. He served as Chief for six years, 1954-1960. Dr. Tessmer returned to Japan in 1960. For the next two years, 1960-1962, he served as the Chief to the Medical General Laboratory (406). Dr. Tessmer travelled to Houston, Texas after a year with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., 1962-1963.
Dr. Tessmer has been affliated with the University of Texas for over a decade, 1963-1974. He has served as Chief Pathologist and Professor of Pathology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute at Houston and Graduate Faculty member at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science at Houston. While teaching at UTGSBS he sponsored four graduate students for the doctoral degree. From 1971-1973 he was the Program Coordinator for the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
From 1973-1985, Dr. Tessmer was associated with the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center, Temple, Texas in several capacities. His appointments were: Chief, Laboratory Service of the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center, 1973-1985; Medical Director, Medical Technologist School, Southwest Texas University, 1976-1977; Medical Director, Medical Technician School, Temple Junior College, 1973-1985. Dr. Tessmer's last academic post was as Professor, Department of Human Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, College Station, Texas, 1977-1985.
Dr. Tessmer was very active as a physician, pathologist, adminstrator and professor. He had medical licensure in the states of Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Texas. He wrote forty-five publications. and was a member or fellow of eleven professional organizations. They were: American Society of Clinical Pathologists (Fellow), College of American Pathologists (Fellow), American Association of Pathologists, Radiation Research Society, Washington Society of Pathologists (President, 1959-1960), International Academy of Pathologists, Texas Medical Association, Texas Society of Pathologists, Texas Society for Electron Microscopy, Member, CAP House of Delegates, Texas, 1971-, Sigma Xi. His expertise has been in high demand. He served as a consultant to a number of institutes, committees and agencies. They were: Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, Medical Division, 1956, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Division of Biology and Medicine Advisory Panel, AEC (Californium 252 program), 1968, HEW, Food and Drug Admistration, Radiation Bio-Effects and Epidemiology Advisory Committee, 1972. Dr. Tessmer has had a number of appointments: Diplomate to the American Board of Pathology - Clinical and Anatomic Pathology, 1941, Subcommission on Radiation Pathology, I.C.P.R., 1967-1973, President of the Houston Society of Clinical Pathologists, 1970-1973, Member of the International Commission for Stage Grouping on Cancer and Presentation of Results (I.C.P.R.) (International Society of Radiology), 1973-.
Dr. Tessmer retired from academia in 1985. His sons - Jon F. is a physician in Brownwood, Texas and David P. Lives in Pittsburgh, PA. On October 13, 1992 he married Shizue Murata. They enjoyed living in the Texas countryside and traveling until Dr. Tessmer's death on February 2, 2012.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
Dr. Tessmer served as the first Director of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), NAS-NRC Field Agency, from 1948 to 1951. His archival collection relates to the origin and subsequent progress of the ABCC. The bulk of the material in his collection is administrative in nature. Included are semi-annual and annual reports, NAS and NRC committee reports, early negotiations, reports from the initial clinical surveys, published scientific reports and correspondence dating from 1947. Approximately, 300 photographs and 15 sets of negatives accompanied Dr. Tessmer's Collection. The photographs have since been moved, housed separately with the ABCC photograph collection, and have been cataloged. This collections is 7.125 linear feet (18 boxes).
Dr. Tessmer's Collection is essential for researchers studying the history of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and early radiation medicine. Also available is a taped interview with Dr. Tessmer conducted by Dr. Mary Winkler, which was recorded on December 6, 1985. The collection is open for research. Individuals interested in using the collection should contact the Director of the Historical Research Center or the Coordinator for the ABCC Collections.
The Carl F. Tessmer Collection contains publications from a number of government agencies, military branches and civilian organizations. They clearly illustrate the establishment and association with the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. Dr. Tessmer served as the first Director of the ABCC. The papers are predominately administrative and are organized under the issuing agency. The strengths of the collection are the early reports and correspondence dating from 1947 to the mid-1950s. The scientific publications come in the form of abstracts and reprints from the 1970s and 1980s.
Unique to this collection are several maps of Post-War Japan, cultural publications and artifacts. Most of these publications are no longer available in Japan. e.g. Dr. Tessmer donated two lapel pins. The first is a Rotary International pin presented to him at the time he became an honorary member of the Hiroshima Rotary. The second is the ABCC pin. Which was designed to follow the widespread Japanese custom of a lapel pin to show association with a company or institution, and to assist with identification. It is made, incidentally, by one of the traditional Japanese methods of fine metal work. Essentially it involves incising the metal surface and hammering small filaments of gold into the clefts. It incorporates the proper Aesculapian figure. Worthy of note is the fact somewhat later ABCC members were told that the Japanese reacted a little unfavorably to the serpent portion. The concept of the pin was readily accepted by the early Japanese staff. Its subsequent use is unknown.
As stated in the introduction, Dr. Tessmer's photographs have been rehoused and cataloged as single items and in sets. The bibliographic records and holdings are in a machine readable format. The findings aid for the photographs are the following: traditional card files and computerized bibliographic records in online catalogs. All of the photographs are black and white and most were taken by Mr. Einhorn, photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. These photographs provide a wonderful visual record of the establishment and early activities of the ABCC.
The collection is arranged in sixteen series: I. Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Field Agency Committee on Atomic Casualties Division of Medical Sciences National Research Council - Reports II. United States Atomic Energy Commission - NYO III. Office of the Air Surgeon - NP IV. Magazine and Newspaper Articles V. Reports Prepared for Director of Defense Nuclear Agency VI. Abstracts and Reprints VII. 406th Medical General Laboratory VIII. Office of the Chief Surgeon Far East Command IX. National Research Council X. Ministry of Health and Welfare. Japanese Government XI. ABCC Correspondence and Reports XII. Cultural and Historical Publications on Japan XIII. Maps XIIII. Communications XV. Artifacts XVI. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council XVII. ABCC Publications
The individual series are arranged under the alpha-numeric code given by the issuing agency, chronologically and alphabetically where applicable. Segments of the collection arrived with an established order. Where possible, the initial organization was retained. Dr. Tessmer wisely saved notes, draft copies, annotated versions and final printings of significant reports. This provides researchers a unique opportunity to explore the various stages for issued reports. His collection did not contain many duplicates or photocopies. All metal hinges, staples, and paper clips were removed. Archival bond was interleaved to keep related documents and attachments together. Where required, documents on acidic paper were photocopied onto archival bond paper and the originals discarded. Some fragile documents were placed in L-velopes to maintain their integrity and to help contain possible contaminants.
The collection includes correspondence with individuals, military officials, government departments and agencies from the United States and Japan, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Field Agency Committee on Atomic Casualties Division of Medical Sciences National Research Council, Office of the Air Surgeon, National Research Council, United States Atomic Energy Commission, National Academy of Science, Director of Defense Nuclear Agency, 406th Medical General Laboratory, Ministry of Health and Welfare Japanese Government, semi-annual reports, annual reports, quarterly reports, surveys, studies, discussions, magazine and newspaper articles, abstracts and reprints, memoranda, correspondence, interim reports, appendices, standing operating procedures, agency and department publications, travel publications, postcards, maps, telegraphs, programs, score and lyrics, artifacts, conference reports and photographs. There are some documents written in Japanese and a few in both English and Japanese. This is specifically noted in the inventory.
Abbreviations used include: ABCC - Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Assoc - Association COM - Committee NAS - National Academy of Sciences NRC - National Research Council SCAP - Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces Sp - Special
Abbreviations for journal titles include: ACTA HAEMATOL. JPN. - Acta Haematology Japan Acta Obst et Gynaec Jap - Acta Obstetricia et Gynaecologica Japan Amer J Epidem - American Journal of Epidemiology Amer J Public Health - American Journal of Public Health Hum.Genet. - Human Genetics JADA - The Journal of the American Dental Association J Chron Dis. - Journal of Chronic Diseases J NATL CANCER INST. or JNCI - Journal of the National Cancer Institute J RADIAT. RES. - Journal of Radiation Research
I. Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Field Agency Committee on Atomic Casualties Division of Medical Sciences National Research Council - Reports, 3 Boxes These reports are arranged chronologically. Most of the semi-annual reports were issued in two parts - part 1 is research and part 2 is administration. They date from 1 July 1951 through 31 December 1953. Other annual reports, summaries and quarterly reports that make-up this series date from 1950 and 1951. The semi-annual report in folder is accompanied by a handwritten note to C. Tessmer. The cover of the semi-annual report in folder 11 is labelled "corrected" and is accompanied by a typed memorandum from Dr. Frank H. Connell.
II. United States Atomic Energy Commission - NYO, 2 Boxes The publications in this series are files by NYO number. Recorded is the complete title, author and date. In some instance the TIS Issuance Date is given. NYO-4469 in folder 15 is stamped "Unclassified", initialled and dated 2/21/57. Printed are round table discussions by the survivors, bibliographies, medical examinations and follow-up studies. Included are three growth and development program studies by Earle L. Reynolds.
III. Office of the Air Surgeon, 2 Boxes There are five volumes of reports in this series dated April 19, 1951. They are filed by NP number. Entitled : Medical Effects of Atomic Bomb. The Report of the Joint Commission on the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan. Army Institute of Pathology.
IV. Magazine and Newspaper Articles, 1 Box The three articles filed in this series illustrates the continued interest in the atomic bomb survivors by the general population. The publications are : Life magazine, Empire: the magazine of the Denver Post and The Pittsburgh Press.
V. Reports Prepared for Director of Defense Nuclear Agency, 1 Box These reports are filed alphabetically. They all date from the early 1980s. Of the seven reports field in this series the first four are technical reports and the last three are final reports. Military focus.
VI. Abstracts and Reprints, 1 Box This single box contains 37 separate articles. They are filed alphabetically by title. All date from the late 1970s and the 1980s. The primary topic is the health of the a-bomb survivors and their offspring.
VII. 406th Medical General Laboratory, 1 Box Two public health reports are filed here. One is on the black flies of Japan and Korea.
VIII. Office of the Chief Surgeon Far East Command, 1 Box A published report from the office on parasitic mites is filed here.
IX. National Research Council, 1 Box Memorandum to the Committee on Atomic Casualties are filed here. This committee helped lay the groundwork for the foundation of the ABCC. It was created in 1947.
X. Ministry of Health and Welfare. Japanese Government. 1 Box The Japanese National Institute of Health of Minstry of Health and Welfare formally joined the studies of the ABCC in 1948. A single administrative public health report is filed here.
XI. ABCC Correspondence and Reports, 2 Boxes This is one of the most outstanding series of this collection. Filed here are correspondence and interim reports leading to the establishment of the ABCC - primarily to and from the General Headquarters Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Public Health and Welfare Section. Discussed is the need for the ABCC, the funding, and continued support. There are letters from Dr. H. Grant Taylor to Dr. Tessmer. Dr. Taylor succeeded Dr. Tessmer as the Director of ABCC. Included are annotated copies of reports issued by Dr. Tessmer as ABCC Director. The first clinical studies by ABCC scientists are filed here. Some are preliminary reports, status surveys - marked not for publications and studies that include letters from the authors and sets of photographs. This is indicated on the inventory. The photographs were sleeved, labelled and left with pertinent correspondence, manuscripts, drafts, or reports.
XII. Cultural and Historical Publications on Japan, 1 Box This series is unique to the collection. Dr. Tessmer has collected tourist information printed in Occupied Japan. Included are guides, postcards, maps, published photographs, booklets. The cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo and Nikko Shrine are represented.
XIII . Maps, 1 Box Some of the maps were issued by the United States Air Force and others by the Japanese Travel Bureau. All are folded and some have legends in both English and Japanese. This has been noted in the inventory.
XIV. Communications, 1 Box In this series are filed Japanese Telegraphs and materials from the Hiroshima Rotary Club. The Hiroshima Rotary Club conducted a program on September 27, 1949.
XV. Artifacts, 1 Box An ABCC lapel pin and part of a Rotary International lapel pin are boxed in this series. A description of the pins can be found in the second paragraph of the Organization section of this guide.
XVI. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council, 1 Box, The reports, memoranda, and meeting programs in this series are from the 1950s. Accompanying some of the reports are handwritten notes. The reports are scientific, admistrative and procedural. The provisional analysis of the Tumor Registry Data, committee reports from visits to the ABCC, the Unified Study Program can be found here.
Important subjects: Army Institute of Pathology, Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Field Agency Committee on Atomic Casualties Division of Medical Sciences National Research Council, artifacts, atomic calculations, atomic medicine, congenital and hereditary abnormalities, consanguinity, culture, cytogenetics, Defense Nuclear Agency, 406th Medical General Laboratory, genetics, hematology, Hiroshima, Japan, Japanese Institute of Health. Ministry of Health and Welfare, Nagasaki, National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Office of the Air Surgeon, Office of the Chief Surgeon Far East Command, radiation, Rotary International, SCAP, serology, Tokyo, United States Atomic Energy Commission vital statistics.
Among the authors and correspondents are : H. Grant Taylor, William J. Schull, Paul G. Filmore, Seymour Jablon, Felix E. Moore, R. Keith Cannan, John C. Bugher, James V. Neel, Lowell A. Woodbury, Robert M. Hupsel, Morihiro Ishida, Robert W. Miller, Robert F. Poole , Jr., Neal Tsukifuji, Werner Wells, Wm. Walter Greulich, John J. Lentz Jr., Melvin A. Block, Raisuke Shirabe, T. Fujii, K. Tsuchitori, M. Oishi, Herman E. Pease, Merril Eisenbud, John S. Lawerence, Philip S. Owen, Daniel Noce, Lewis H. Weed, Wataru W. Sutow, Michinori Hamada, Sadahisa Kawamoto, Earle L. Reynolds.
System of arrangement
This collection is arranged into the following series.
Series I. Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission Field Agency Committee on Atomic Casualties Division of Medical Sciences National Research Council.
Series II. United States Atomic Energy Commission - NYO.
Series III. Office of the Air Surgeon - NP.
Series IV. Magazine and Newspaper Articles.<
Series V. Reports Prepared for Director of Defense Nuclear Agency.
Series VI. Abstracts and Reprints.
Series VII. 406th Medical General Laboratory.
Series VIII. Office of the Chief Surgeon Far East Command.
Series IX. National Research Council.
Series X. Ministry of Health and Welfare. Japanese Government.
Series XI. ABCC Correspondence and Reports.
Series XII. Cultural and Historical Publications on Japan.
Series XIII. Maps.
Series XIV. Communications.
Series XV. Artifacts.
Series XVI. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council.
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
The collection is open for research.
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
Immediate source of acquisition
Dr. Tessmer donated his papers to the Harris County Medical Archive, now the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center in the Texas Medical Center Library, in August of 1985 and has made additional contributions in 1986, 1994 and 1995.
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
Related archival materials
Related materials include the assorted Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) collections located at the McGovern Historical Research Center. Consult an archivist for more information.
- Citation: Carl Tessmer, MD, papers; MS 068; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS ( Describing Archives: A Content Standard).
The finding aid for this collection was rewritten and updated in January 2011, because several boxes were found to be missing from the collection. The missing boxes are assumed to have been destroyed in the 2001 flood of the HRC archive by Tropical Storm Allison; however there is no obvious record about the missing boxes. Please consult an archivist if you have questions concerning missing boxes. In the course of updating the finding aid, the processor found many documents on thermal copy papers are fading. The processor copied the fading documents and inserted the thermal copy and the newer copy in paper sleeves. This finding aid has been rewritten to more accurately reflect actually order and contents of the collection.
Finding aid prepared by Margaret Irwin in April 1996, revised by Philip Montgomery in January 2011 and Sonia Lavilla in 2014.
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Neel, James V. (James Van Gundia) (Subject)
- Miller, Robert W. (Subject)
- Sutow, Wataru W. (Wataru Walter), 1912-1981 (Subject)
- Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (Subject)
- Tessmer, Carl F. (Subject)
- Schull, William J. (Subject)