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Papers of Charles Frederick Menninger

Creator: Menninger, Charles Frederick, 1862-1953

Date: 1884 - 1969

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Unavailable

Unit ID: 223942

Abstract: Charles Frederick Menninger's papers are a relatively small sub-collection in the Menninger archives, particularly when compared to his son Karl's papers. Nonetheless, the materials document C. F.'s professional and personal interests, especially in the fields of medicine and horticulture. The materials consists of lecture notes, reference and informational materials, news clippings, cards and other ephemera, glass slides, notebooks, medical reports and patient records, and other items.

Major topics include diabetes, neurology, mental illnesses, shells, geology and mineralogy, the Reinisch Memorial Rose Garden at Gage Park, various flowering plants, and other natural and horticultural topics. There is also a great deal of material about C.F.'s death in 1953 and related to memorial and tribute activities after his death; as well as materials related to his personal finances, his three sons Karl, Edwin, and William, his two wives Flo and Pearl, special events in his life such as birthdays and wedding anniversaries, and general biographical information. There is some information related to the early years of the Menninger Sanitarium and Clinic, though not much; and the papers span most of Charles' life.

Space Required/Quantity: Circa 16 cubic feet.

Title (Main title): Papers of Charles Frederick Menninger

Part of: Menninger Foundation Archives. Papers of the Menninger Family.


Biog. Sketch (Full): Charles Fredrick Menninger was born at Tell City, Indiana, on July 11, 1862 to August Valentine and Katherine Schmitberger Menninger. C.F. was the sixth of 8 children, and the youngest son to August and Katherine.

After graduating from Central Indiana Normal School in Danville, Indiana in 1882, Charles traveled west to teach sciences at Campbell College in Holton, Kansas, where he remained for five years. While there, C. F. met his future wife, and on January 15, 1885, he married Florence "Flo" Vesta Knisley. They had three sons: Karl, Edwin, and William. Following the death of Flo in 1945, Charles married Pearl Boam, a life-long family friend, on June 15, 1948. They remained married until his death, and Pearl died in 1969.

Charles Menninger began study at Hahnemann Medical College, a homeopathic school in Chicago, in 1887; he graduated two years later as a doctor of medicine. That same year Dr. Menninger started to practice medicine in Topeka, being particularly interested in internal medicine, especially in diabetes and metabolic disturbances. He continued his formal study at the Kansas Medical College, then a division of Washburn University, and graduated in 1906, when he was also elected to the faculty of the medical college.

In Topeka, C.F. found a group of energetic and cooperative medical community with which he could work, and he quickly became a well-regarded physician in the city, with demand particularly among the German-speaking residents. Charles continued post-graduate studies in Chicago, Michigan, and New York, continued to read the professional literature, and was a local innovator, such as through his use of microscopes in the office and treating diabetes with insulin.

Dr. Menninger first became interested in mental illness in the 1890s, fostered by a friendship with Dr. B.E. Eastman, then superintendent of Topeka State Hospital. Trips to the fledgling Mayo clinic of Rochester, Minnesota and to Elliott Proctor Joslin's group practice in Boston also engendered in Charles a strong desire to create his own group medical practice in Topeka. In 1919, C.F.'s son Karl Menninger returned to Topeka from his medical studies and a residency in Boston to open the early Menninger Clinic with his father. A few years later Charles' youngest son Will, also a doctor, joined them, the group practice slowly becoming a strictly psychiatric facility and eventually becoming a major national institution in the study of and care for patients with mental illnesses.

Throughout his life, C.F. Menninger conducted classes in gardening, mineralogy and conchology as part of the adjunctive therapy program at the Menninger Foundation. He remained active in the medical field as well as the local community until his death on November 28, 1953.

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


No Locators Identified

Index Terms


    Menninger Clinic -- History
    Menninger, Charles Frederick, 1862-1953 -- Archives

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Organizations/Corporations. Menninger Foundation Archives. Family. C. F. Menninger.