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Hermon S. Major papers

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Creator: Major, Hermon S. (Hermon Samuel), 1876-1961

Date: circa 1892 - 1955

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Menninger Historic Psychiatry Coll., Major, Boxes 1-4

Unit ID: 223266

Restrictions: Records related to individually identifiable patients may be restricted.

Abstract: This collection of papers largely consists of patient cards from the Simpson-Major, later Major, Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri. These index cards typically recorded such information as patient's name, address, occupation, symptoms, family history, information regarding any addictions the patient may have had (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, morphine, etc.), from whom referred, family physician, and who accompanied the patient to the clinic.

Also with the materials are an autobiographical sketch; copies of various professional organization membership, military, and other certificates; photographs of the exterior and interior at the Simpson-Major clinic; photographs of students at the Scarritt Collegiate Institute; treatment records presumably for the Kansas City clinic (mostly regarding payment information, 1904-1925); 1 folder of sanitarium correspondence; and some miscellaneous materials related to Major's army work during World War 1. There is also a volume of account treatments (payment information) for the Keeley Institute of Kansas, 1891-1899. The Keeley Institute was created by Dr. Leslie Keeley in Dwight, Illinois to cure alcoholism; this Kansas volume includes accounts from Topeka, Leavenworth, Wichita, Kansas City, and Marysville, Kansas.

Summary: Hermon S. Major (1876-1961) owned and directed the Major Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1921-1955. This clinic, originally known as the Southwest Sanatorium, was a private psychiatric facility devoted to the treatment of alcoholics. Photographs of the exterior and interior at the Simpson-Major clinic and photographs of students at the Scarritt Collegiate Institute are included. The Keeley Institute was created by Dr. Leslie Keeley in Dwight, Illinois, to cure alcoholism; this Kansas volume includes accounts from Topeka, Leavenworth, Wichita, Marysville, and Kansas City, Kansas. This collection is part of the historic psychiatry material in the Menninger Archives. These materials represent a selection of items from the Hermon S. Major papers. Access to some materials has been restricted due to potential violations of state and federal records law.

Space Required/Quantity: 2.67 cubic feet

Title (Main title): Hermon S. Major papers

Part of: Menninger Foundation Archives. Historic Psychiatry sub-collection.


Biog. Sketch (Full): Hermon Samuel Major was born 10 September 1876 to William Weeden and Lucinda Catherine Hulsey Major, on a farm southeast of Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri. Hermon's father served in the Confederate army under Generals Sterling Price and Joseph Shelby and fought in Arkansas, which is how he met his wife Lucinda. Coming from a medical family, Hermon grew up wanting to be a doctor as well. He went to Scarritt Collegiate Institute in Neosho, Missouri, attending at the same time as Will Rogers. He then attended the Teachers Institute in Garden City, MO before teaching school for a brief time.

In 1900 Major began working in Kansas City, MO, selling encyclopedias. Through this endeavor he met a doctor who helped him attend the University Medical College in Kansas City. He took some time off to teach school in order to earn enough money to continue attending and finally graduated and began general practice in 1905. That same year he married Aurelia Clara Harris of Belton, Missouri. They lived at first in Hardin, Ray County. They had one son, Hermon Samuel Major, Jr., born in 1907, and one daughter, Aurelia Katherine, born in 1910.

Dr. Major moved his family to Fulton, Missouri in 1915 when his cousin, Governor Elliott Major, appointed him assistant superintendent and clinical director of the state hospital located there. In charge of hundreds of patients, Major did away with many of the confinement procedures that had been typical of the time in such institutions, such as straitjackets and straps.

During World War I, Major worked with the Nervous and Mental Section of the army, working in army camps throughout the United States. He was not discharged from army work until early 1919, when he returned to Fulton and the state hospital; because of his army work, he began writing thorough case histories for state hospital patients.

In 1921 Major bought a half-interest in a sanitarium in Kansas City owned by Dr. James Y. Simpson. In 1936, Dr. Simpson's health began failing him, and Dr. Major took over full control of the clinic. Major also was appointed neuro-psychiatrist by the Kansas City Southern Railroad in 1930. He stopped seeing patients in 1955 due to poor health. Hermon S. Major died on 13 December 1961.

Scope and Content

Portions of Collection Separately Described:

More separate components

Portions of Collection Not Separately Described:

  1. Major--Finding Aid (Box 1, folder 1)
  2. Major, Hermon S., MD "The History of Hermon Samuel Major, MD" 1876-1963? (Box 1, folder 2)
  3. Major, Hermon S., MD American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology certificate 769 1940 (Box 1, folder 3)
  4. Major, Hermon S., MD American Medical Association Fellowship certificates 1916-18 (Box 1, folder 4)
  5. Major, Hermon S., MD Order of Demolay for Boys Retirement certificate 1928 (Box 1, folder 5)
  6. Major, Hermon S., MD The General Science Schools certificate 1925 (Box 1, folder 6)
  7. Major, Hermon S., MD Kansas City General Hospital Recognition certificate 1942 (Box 1, folder 7)
  8. Major, Hermon S., MD The Major Clinic (photo) 3100 Euclid Ave., Kansas City, MO 1937 (Box 1, folder 8)
  9. Major, Hermon S., MD Masonic Certificate 32nd degree 1944 (Box 1, folder 9)
  10. Major, Hermon S., MD Missouri Medical Advisory Board Appointment 1941 (Box 1, folder 10)
More components


Locator Contents
078-03-02-04 to 078-03-03-01   
980-11-00-00  Oversize drawer-K-Major Collection. Certificates, portraits. 

Index Terms


    Keeley Institute of Kansas
    Major Sanitarium -- History
    Scarritt Collegiate Institute -- Students -- Photographs
    Simpson-Major Sanitarium -- History
    Major, Hermon S. (Hermon Samuel), 1876-1961 -- Archives
    Alcoholism -- Kansas
    Psychiatric hospital patients -- Missouri -- Kansas City
    Substance abuse -- Middle West

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Organizations/Corporations. Menninger Foundation Archives. Historic Psychiatry. Individuals. Hermon Major.

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: Records related to individually identifiable patients may be restricted.