Collection Information

The W. Horsley Gantt Collection

Gantt, W. Horsley - 1892-1980
Scope & content:
    The W. Horsley Gantt Collection spans his entire career, emphasizing his scientific research as well as Pavlov's. Series include correspondence, research notes, manuscripts, reprints, and mementos from Gantt's travels. The collection consists of numerous biographical materials, such as photographs, class notes, medical licenses, diaries, appointment books, and press clippings. Correspondence is divided into family correspondence, general correspondence, and correspondence with organizations. Gantt's scientific papers are primarily concerned with behavioral studies at the Pavlovian Laboratories. Particularly noteworthy are original handwritten letters from Pavlov and several photographs of Pavlov in his laboratory. A series of Gantt's political papers highlights his interests and studies in Russia. These materials include Russian public health posters, books from Russia, clippings from Russian Science and other publications, and documents concerning Gantt's political associations and social activism. Audiovisual materials consist of films, prints, and audio cassettes. The collection is particularly strong in documenting the influence of Pavlov on human and animal behavioral studies in the United States and abroad.
Provenance and Project Funding:
    Gantt's appetite for information, ideas, and friendship was voracious. His concomitant need to document and save was insatiable, and he rarely threw anything away. A well-meaning colleague once took advantage of his absence to sort and organize some of Gantt's legendary stacks of papers, filling a large wastebasket in the process. Gantt's reaction to his neat cleared desk was to retrieve the entire contents of the wastebasket and replace the piles on his desk. In order to accommodate this habit, Gantt eventually purchased a small house in Baltimore in which to store the overflow. At his death in 1980 his papers filled approximately 300 cubic feet of space.
    During the 70's Gantt was approached by several institutions concerning the disposition of his papers, but ultimately he willed them to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, which had been home base for his research throughout his life. At his death his wife and longtime assistant, Rebecca Gantt, began the process of transferring papers to the Archives from their home. Concurrently, a team of Archives staff began the task of sorting papers in the East Baltimore home, calling upon the expertise of the Hopkins medical community to deal with such troublesome by-products of biomedical research as pathology specimens. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with matching funds from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, funded the transfer of the Gantt collection to the Medical Archives and a preliminary inventory of the collection.
    The sheer size and complexity of Gantt's personal papers made care and processing an expensive, long-term project, exceeding the resources of the Archives. Help came from the National Library of Medicine in the form of a generous two-year grant, which funded processing, conservation, production of an inventory, and publication of a guide.
Policy on Access and Use:
    This collection may contain some restricted records. Materials pertaining to patients, students, employees, and human research subjects, as well as unprocessed collections and recent administrative records, carry restrictions on access. For more information about the policies and procedures for access, see Policy on Access and Use.
    For permission to reproduce images, contact the holder of the copyright.