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The Archives is happy to announce that the Elbert L. Persons Papers, 1923-1970, are processed and open to researchers. The collection is organized into the following series: Personal Papers, 1951-1969; Correspondence, 1946-1970; Duke Medicine, 1931-1970; Professional Papers, 1923-1970; United States Armed Forces, 1934-1970; American College of Physicians (ACP), 1943-1970; Diets, circa 1940-1949; and Audiovisual, 1964, undated. The papers contain professional and personal correspondence, grant materials, records pertaining to Persons’ time with the 65th General Hospital, Duke Medicine, and the ACP, as well as, administrative records, guides, brochures, programs, schedules, information on Duke Medicine’s Annual Medical Symposium, meeting materials, schedules, notes, photographic materials, a small amount of personal papers, speeches, writings, and contracts. Materials range in date from 1923 to 1970.
Elbert Lapsley Persons was born in 1904 in Ft. Flagler, Washington. He obtained degrees from Ohio State University (A.B., 1923) and Harvard University (M.D., 1927). Persons joined Duke University in 1930, when the hospital opened, as its first Resident in Medicine. In 1942, Persons left Durham to serve in World War II with the 65th General Hospital, where he was Colonel and Chief of Medical Services serving in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and later in England (1942-1945). At the conclusion of WWII, Persons returned to Duke University, and from 1945 to 1970, he served as Assistant Physician, Professor of Medicine, Professor of Community Health Sciences, Director of Student Health Services (1946-1966), and Chief of the Rheumatism Clinic (1955-1965).
At Duke, Persons served on committees pertaining to the library, hospital records, physical and occupational therapy, social service, the curriculum, planning and development, and policy review. He was a member of several professional societies including the American Therapeutic Society, North Carolina Medical Society, and the ACP. From 1958 to 1959, Persons served as the second president of the American Society of Internal Medicine (now known as the ACP). Persons' research interests included arthritis, chronic illness, armed forces medicine, and respiratory disease. In addition to Person’s work at Duke, he also worked as a consultant to the U.S. Army Hospital at Ft. Bragg (1947-1963) and as a consultant to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina (1959-1959).
Persons married Helen Hopkinson Coles in 1932, and they had two daughters, Susan and Mary. Persons died on November 24, 1970 at the age of 66.