Belt, Elmer, 1893-1980

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George Washington Corner worked as an anatomist, endocrinologist, and medical historian.

From the guide to the George Washington Corner papers, 1889-1981, 1903-1982, (American Philosophical Society)

Biographical Note

Elmer Belt, M.D. (1893-1980), was a Los Angeles area urologist, bibliophile, and humanist who was instrumental in the founding of the School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). An avid book collector, Dr. Belt became an expert on Leonardo da Vinci and his time, amassing a large and important collection of books and other material related to da Vinci's life and work. He donated this collection to UCLA in 1961.

Born Arthur Elmer Belt in Chicago, Illinois on April 10, 1893, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was nine and then to a small ranch in Orange County near Anaheim. Elmer Belt (the form of name he preferred) entered Los Angeles High School in 1907 and enrolled in Latin, a medical school prerequisite. There he met Ruth Smart whom, he said, he "never subsequently permitted out of my sight." The two were married in 1918. Belt began collecting books as a student in 1909 with works by Upton Sinclair; in 1934 he become involved with Sinclair's campaign for governor of California. The Upton Sinclair collection was eventually donated to Occidental College.

Belt attended the University of California at Berkeley, obtaining a B.A. in 1916 and an M.A. in 1917. He attended the University of California Medical School in San Francisco and was chosen as a fellow of the Hooper Institute for Medical Research, working with Dr. George Whipple and Dr. Frank Hinman. After finishing medical school in 1920 Belt continued working in urology with Hinman. Early in his medical school career, Belt signed up for a non-credit elective course in the History of Medicine taught by Dr. George Washington Corner, an anatomist who had recently come to the University of California from Johns Hopkins. It was in this class that Belt developed his fascination and devotion to Leonardo da Vinci, inspiring the vast library of Vinciana he eventually donated to UCLA. Subsequently his collecting fervor also included Silas Weir Mitchell and Florence Nightingale and in the 1930s Belt began working with Los Angeles bookseller Jake Zeitlin to fulfill these and other ambitious collecting interests.

After a year as Resident in Urology with Dr. Hinman in San Francisco, Dr. Belt spent a year as Resident in General Surgery at Boston's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, working under Dr. Harvey Cushing. In 1923, the Belts moved to Los Angeles where he began a private practice. He soon established the Elmer Belt Urologic Group, a group practice which moved to its own building on Wilshire Blvd. in 1936; the upper floor of this structure housed his ever-expanding library. From 1939 through 1954 Belt served as the President of the State Board of Public Health, having been first appointed by California Governor Culbert Olsen and then reappointed by Governor Earl Warren for each of Warren's three terms in office. Dr. Belt had privileges as a staff, attending, or consulting urologist at many hospitals around Los Angeles County and taught as Clinical Professor of Surgery (Urology) in the UCLA School of Medicine. He was greatly instrumental in the founding of the UCLA School of Medicine and finding its first dean, and continued as its staunch supporter for his whole life.

Elmer Belt died on May 17, 1980 at age 87.

From the guide to the Elmer Belt Papers, 1920-1980, bulk 1958-1978, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences)

Biography

S. Seymour Thomas was born on Aug. 20, 1868 in San Augustine, Texas and died in Mar. 1956. He studied at the Art Students League (1885-88) and at the Academie Julien, Paris (1888-91); was a pupil of Jules Lefebre and Benjamin Constant; and settled in La Crescenta, CA, near Los Angeles. He won honorary mention (1895) and gold medals (1901 and 1904) at the Paris Salon, and was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, 1905. His memberships included the Paris Society of American Painters, the Los Angeles Art Association, Pasadena Art Society, and the Academy of Western Painters.

Elmer Belt, M.D., renowned Los Angeles urologist and bibliophile, was highly instrumental in the founding of the UCLA School of Medicine and he proved a very good friend to that institution for the rest of his life. Through his initiative the opening ceremony for the new school included the presentation of a portrait of Sir William Osler by the artist, Seymour Thomas. Mr. Thomas had exhibited the widely-lauded original in Paris in 1909 and kept it in his home until shortly before his death in 1956; but he had also painted a replica, and Belt raised the money to have that replica presented and hung at UCLA.

William E. Goodwin, M.D., also a urologist and nephew of Dr. Belt, inherited his uncle's interest in Osler. He also inherited a folder of papers relating to both the original and the replica of the portrait. and some other Osler-related material, which he gave to the UCLA Biomedical Library probably in the mid-1980s.

From the guide to the Sir William Osler Portrait by Seymour Thomas, and other Osler-Related Papers, 1946-1986, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn John Allison Benjamin Papers, 1925-1994 Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. History and Special Collections Division
creatorOf Thomas, Stephen Seymour, 1868-1956. Sir William Osler portrait by Seymour Thomas and other Osler-related papers, 1946-1986. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Benjamin, John A. (John Allison), 1906-. Papers, 1925-1994. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Belt, Elmer, 1893-1980. [Collection of correspondence, articles, photographs, etc., of urologist and collector, Elmer Belt.]. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf George Washington Corner papers, 1889-1981, 1903-1982 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Collection of material about Charles Huggins and correspondence with Elmer Belt and Willard E. Goodwin., 1946-1985 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
referencedIn Adams, Charles K. [Letter from Charles K. Adams to Elmer Belt, M.D : typed.] Houston Academy of Medicine, Texas Medical Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library
referencedIn Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981. Papers, 1903-1982. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Collection of material about Charles Huggins and correspondence with Elmer Belt and Willard E. Goodwin, 1946-1985. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Belt, Elmer, 1893-1980. Script and production research materials for Dr. Ehrlich's magic bullet, 1881-1940. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Belt, Elmer, 1893-1980. Florence Nightingale / by Elmer Belt, [12 June 1945] University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Elmer Belt Papers, 1920-1980, bulk 1958-1978 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
creatorOf Belt, Elmer, 1893-1980. The Upton Sinclair collection from the library of Dr. and Mrs. Elmer Belt : catalogue prepared for the donation to Occidental College / by Kate Trauman Steinitz and Margot Archer. Indiana University
creatorOf Sir William Osler Portrait by Seymour Thomas, and other Osler-Related Papers, 1946-1986 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections Division
referencedIn Script and production research materials for Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet, 1881-1940 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Charles K. person
associatedWith Allen, Willard M., 1904-1993 person
associatedWith American Association for the History of Medicine. corporateBody
associatedWith American Association of Anatomists. corporateBody
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Archer, Margot. person
associatedWith Bartlemez, George W., b. 1885 person
associatedWith Beebe, William, 1877-1962 person
associatedWith Benjamin, John A. (John Allison), 1906- person
associatedWith Berle, Adolf Augustus, 1895-1971 person
associatedWith Carnegie Institution of Washington. corporateBody
associatedWith Castle, William E., (William Ernest), 1867-1962 person
associatedWith Clark, Wilfrid E. Le Gros, (Wilfrid Edward Le Gros), 1895-1971 person
associatedWith Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981. person
associatedWith Cowdry, E. V., (Edmund Vincent), 1888-1975 person
associatedWith Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939 person
associatedWith Ebert, James David, 1921-2001 person
associatedWith Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana. corporateBody
associatedWith Evans, Herbert Martin person
associatedWith Gandhi, Mahatma, 1869-1948 person
associatedWith Garrison, Fielding H., (Fielding Hudson), 1870-1935 person
associatedWith Goodwin, Willard E., 1915- person
associatedWith Institute for Sex Research. corporateBody
associatedWith International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857 person
associatedWith Kinsey, Alfred C., (Alfred Charles), 1894-1956 person
associatedWith Klebs, Arnold C., (Arnold Carl), 1870-1943 person
associatedWith Lindbergh, Charles A., (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974 person
associatedWith Mencken, H. L., (Henry Louis), 1880-1956 person
associatedWith Moe, Henry Allen, 1894-1975 person
associatedWith Muller, H. J., (Hermann Joseph), 1890-1967 person
associatedWith National Association for Retarded Children. corporateBody
associatedWith National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. corporateBody
associatedWith Nightingale, Florence, 1820-1910. person
associatedWith Occidental College. corporateBody
associatedWith Osler, William, Sir, 1849-1919 person
associatedWith Planned Parenthood Federation of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Raacke, Ilse Dorothea, 1925- person
associatedWith Rockefeller Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Romer, Alfred Sherwood, 1894-1973 person
associatedWith Sabin, Florence Rena, 1871-1953 person
associatedWith Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.. corporateBody
associatedWith Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968 person
associatedWith Singer, Charles Joseph, 1876-1960 person
associatedWith Steinitz, Kate Traumann, 1889-1975. person
associatedWith Stockard, Charles R., (Charles Rupert), 1879-1939 person
associatedWith Streeter, George Linius, 1873-1948 person
associatedWith Sudhoff, Karl, 1853-1938 person
associatedWith Thomas, Stephen Seymour, 1868-1956 person
associatedWith University of Oxford. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Rochester. corporateBody
associatedWith Weed, Lewis H., (Lewis Hill), 1886-1952 person
associatedWith Whipple, George Hoyt, 1878- person
associatedWith Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Yerkes, Robert Mearns, 1876-1956 person
associatedWith Zuckerman, Solly Zuckerman, Baron, 1904-1993 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Great Britain
Subject
Hormones, Sex
History of Nursing--19th Cent--Addresses
Book collectors--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Nurses--Biography
Reproduction
Surgeons--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Physicians--Biography
Medicine--Research--United States
Human reproduction--Endocrine aspects
Medicine--History
Univeristy of California, Los Angeles. School of Medicine--History
Rhesus monkey
Urologists--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1893-04-10

Death 1980

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