Series VII. Elmer Ernest Southard papers

1918-Jan. 1920, n.d.

Scope and Content Note

A small series of correspondence, writing, notes and other miscellaneous material found with Elmer Ernest Southard upon his death in a New York City hotel on February 8, 1920.

Biographical Note:

Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920) was a distinguished psychiatrist and neuropathologist who made significant contributions to the fields of psychiatric social work and neuroimaging and conducted groundbreaking studies in schizophrenia. Southard, the only child of Martin Southard (1838-1910) and Olive Knowles Wentworth Southard (1845-1921), was born on July 28, 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Boston Latin school (1893), Harvard College (A.B., 1897, A.M., 1902) and Harvard Medical School (M.D., 1901). On June 27, 1906, he married Mable Fletcher Austin, a graduate of Johns Hopkins Medical School, and the couple had three children.

Southard began his medical career in 1901 as an intern in pathology at the Boston City Hospital. Within three years, he had begun teaching the discipline, first at Boston City Hospital and later at Danvers State Hospital. In 1909, he was appointed the Bullard Professor of Neuropathology at Harvard Medical School where he remained until his death in 1920. In addition to his teaching roles, Southard served as the State Pathologist of Massachusetts, and in 1912, became the first director of the Boston Psychopathic Hospital.

Southard met Walter Arensberg as an undergraduate at Harvard where they were both members of the Harvard Chess Team, and they remained close friends until Southard's death. Although Southard lived in Boston, he made frequent trips to New York City to visit Aresnberg. Southard became a full participant in the Arensberg salon, providing expert knowledge on popular scientific topics such as Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theories as well as other scholarly topics such as St. Thomas Aquinas and Biblical psychology. Contact with Arensberg and his circle of friends may have influenced Southard's decision to write numerous experimental, free verse poems, some of which Arensberg critiqued. On February 8, 1920, during one of his visits to New York City, Southard passed away from influenza in his hotel room. His premature death may have been related to the headaches and seizures from which he suffered throughout his life.

Works Consulted:
  • Gay, Frederick P. (Frederick Parker), 1874-The Open Mind: Elmer Ernest Southard, 1876-1920.
  • Canavan, Myrtelle May (Moore), 1879-Elmer Ernest Southard and His Parents: A Brain Study.
  • Naumann, Francis M."Cryptography and the Arensberg Circle."