Skip to main content

Ruth Wichelhausen papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS930

Scope and Content

The Ruth Wichelhausen papers have been arranged in five series. Series have been designated for Correspondence, Legal Documents, Personal Papers, Medical Papers, and Otto Wichelhausen's Papers. The correspondence has been further subdivided into three subseries: family, friends, and professional correspondence. The correspondence covers the period 1928-1993 and is both incoming and outgoing. The family correspondence is of special interest because most of it concerns Jewish life in Nazi Germany. Of special interest among correspondence with friends is that with Margot Nehring, dated December 1945-August 1965, which describes the lives of refugees after the Second World War. Another subject covered in the correspondence is her medical profession. Most of the correspondence with her family and friends is written in German, with some in English. Also, some of the letters on her medical profession are in German. The legal documents date from 1908 to 1994. The first subseries includes legal documents concerning the Wichelhausen family during the Nazi regime, including the claim of Ruth Wichelhausen and her brother-in-law, Felix Wichelhausen, for the property of her mother-in-law, Ida Wichelhausen. Also included are some of the last letters from her sister- and brother-in-law, Aenne and Richard Frankenberg, before they were deported into a concentration camp in 1941 and 1942. Most of these papers are written in German, but many have been translated into English. The personal papers date from 1922-1995 and include school and university papers from Germany and the United States. Also included are photographs, diaries, datebooks, brochures, newspaper clippings, obituaries, drawings, theater and opera programs, and various papers. There is also a collection of stamps and German currency. These document Wichelhausen's eclectic personal interests, ranging from gardening to her adopted hometown of Atlanta. The medical papers have been subdivided into the following subseries: hospitals & medical organizations, journals, reprints, and research. These papers date from 1913 through 1993 and offer substantial documentation of Dr. Wichelhausen's professional research and interests throughout her career. They include various publications, journals, articles, brochures, and notes on medical research. Also included are papers concerning various hospitals and medical organizations. The papers of Otto Wichelhausen cover the period 1913-1940 and include personal papers such as notebooks, correspondence, school and university papers, and various legal documents. The majority of these papers are in German.


  • 1908-1995, undated


Language of Materials

Materials are in English and German, some of which have been translated into English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

Ruth Maria Hechler Wichelhausen was born June 7, 1908, in Stettin, Germany, to Hans Hechler, a doctor, and his wife Frieda. After graduating from high school, she entered the Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Berlin in 1927. She attended the University in Tubingen in 1929 and 1930, Munich in 1930, Dusseldorf in 1931, and Gottingen in 1932. She received her master's degree in medicine in 1933 from Gottingen. She also interned at the University Hospital in Gottingen. Ruth Wichelhausen came to the United States in 1935. Her eventual husband, Otto Wolfgang Wichelhausen, who was also a doctor, followed her in 1937. They married on April 28, 1937, in Baltimore, Maryland. Otto Wichelhausen was born January 1, 1904 in Herstelle, Westfalen, Germany, to Adolf Wichelhausen, a merchant, and his wife, Ida. He could not get permission to practice medicine in Nazi Germany because he was Jewish. During their first year in the United States, the couple was separated. Otto worked at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, while his wife worked at the Montgomery County Hospital in Olney, Maryland. Otto worked as an assistant in bacteriology until he died of a heart attack on August 14, 1939. After her husband's death, Ruth took over his work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital as an assistant in bacteriology, in which she had specialized. Later she engaged in teaching and research as an instructor in bacteriology at the Johns Hopkins Medical School until she joined the Veterans Administration in 1945 or 1946. After joining the Veterans Administration, she was Director of Arthritis Research at the Mt. Alto Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington, D.C., until moving to Atlanta in 1959. There, she served as Chief of the Tuberculosis Cooperative Study Control Laboratory of the Veterans Administration Hospital. She retired from her position in May 1975 at the age of 67. She had become an American citizen in 1954. In addition, Ruth Wichelhausen was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Georgia Thoracic Society, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the Scientific Research Society of North America. Forty of her writings on medical research have been published. Ruth Wichelhausen died prior to 1996.


3 linear ft. (7 document cases; 1 half document case)

System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged in five series: 1) Correspondence, 2) Legal Documents, 3) Personal Papers, 4) Medical Papers, and 5) Otto Wichelhausen Papers. Three of the five series have subseries. Series 1 has three subseries: 1) Family Correspondence, 2) Friends, and 3) Professional. Series 2 has two subseries: 1) Papers concerning Wichelhausen family and 2) Ruth Wichelhausen. Series 4 has four subseries: 1) Hospitals & Medical Organizations, 2) Journals, 3) Reprints, and 4) Research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1996

Description Control

This collection was reprocessed in 2013.

Ruth Wichelhausen papers
Josh Hogan
April 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305