Finding Aid
Henry L. Bockus
Henry L. Bockus
1894 - 1982
(Henry L. Bockus Collection, MS 010)

Henry L. Bockus Collection
ca. 1953 - 1981
5.5 linear ft. (14 boxes)

Biographical Note
Henry L. Bockus (1894-1982) was born on April 18th in Newark, Delaware. In 1913 he graduated with a BS from Central High School in Philadelphia and received his MD from Jefferson Medical College in 1917. After graduation Bockus joined the medical corps of the U.S. Marines and served in Cuba attached to the 7th Regiment in World War I. Upon his discharge from the military in 1919, Bockus interned at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem (PA) and served his residency in internal medicine at the Lennox Hill Hospital (NY). As resident he worked closely with Max Einhorn, who turned his interest to the field of gastroenterology. Then in 1921, Bockus embarked upon an association with the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that would last for almost 40 years. By 1923, he had organized the Department of Gastroenterology. Other milestones at Penn included his appointment as Professor of Gastroenterology (1931); Chair Departments of Medicine and Gastroenterology (1949-1960); and Emeritus Professor (1960).

While at the Graduate School of Medicine, Bockus contributed to the training and education of several hundred physicians across the globe. In 1958, former students and residents formed the Bockus International Society of Gastroenterology to honor his contributions to the field. International in flavor, the society holds annual business meetings as well as hosting biennial scientific sessions all over the world. The Society also sponsors postgraduate courses with a "traveling faculty," which moves from one country to another. Bockus also helped organize the Subspecialty Board of Gastroenterology of the American Board of Internal Medicine. In 1961, he assisted in the creation of the Asian Gastroenterological Association in Tokyo and of the gastroenterologic societies in India, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and Egypt.

During his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, Bockus wrote his comprehensive three-volume study, Gastroenterology, first published in 1946. In 1965 a second edition was published and translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. By 1974, the work increased to four volumes (eventually spanning seven volumes) and served for many years as the standard reference in this specialty.

Although closely associated with the University of Pennsylvania, Bockus became one of the first two alumni trustees of the Jefferson Medical College Board of Trustees in 1965. Having alumni as trustees was a first for Jefferson and Bockus served in this capacity from 1965 to 1968. In addition he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Jefferson in 1958. Henry L. Bockus died suddenly on 3 April 1982 and was laid to rest in West Laurel Hills Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Scope and Contents
The collection consists of papers of Henry L. Bockus from ca. 1953-1981, including correspondence, subject files, photographs, certificates, plaques, medals, books, and citations. The Office Papers, series III are arranged in their original order. They focus on gastroenterological topics and correspondence with physicians and organizations in other countries; Bockus International correspondence was primarily with physicians in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Of particular interest is information on a civil action between Eli Lilly and Company, the FDA, and HEW regarding the drug Acidulin. The certificates, plaques, medals, and citations were awarded to Bockus in recognition of his work and activities in the United States, South America, and Central America.

Organization and Arrangement

  1. Biography (1917-1965)
  2. Correspondence (1948-1982)
  3. Office Papers
    • Crohn's Disease and Colitis
    • Subject Files
  4. Publications (1930-1974)
    • Articles
    • Books
  5. Events and Ephemera
  6. Certificates and Diplomas
  7. Plaques
      As of 4/14/2000, 3 plaques on loan to the Gastroenterology Department Conference Room (122-40 South 10th Street, 4th Floor)
  8. Medals
      As of 4/14/2000, 9 medals on loan to the Gastroenterology Department Conference Room (122-40 South 10th Street, 4th Floor)
  9. Photographs
      As of 4/14/2000, 2 photographs on loan to the Gastroenterology Department Conference Room (122-40 South 10th Street, 4th Floor)

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