Skip to main content

Robert O. Meyer papers

Identifier: uarc 1183
Collection contains correspondence between Dr. Meyer and Dr. McKelvey regarding the offer of a position at the University of Minnesota, the establishment and management of the Robert O. Meyer Fund, and material related to the passing of Dr. Meyer. Also included is Dr. Meyer's autobiography published in 1949 by Henry Schuman, New York.


  • 1936-1950


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.


1 box (0.25 cubic feet)


Contains correspondence related to Robert Meyer's emigration to the United States, invitation to join the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at the University of Minnesota, and information about the fund established to support his continued research activities.

Biographical Sketch or Robert O. Meyer (1864-1947)

Robert Otto Meyer, M.D. (1889) University of Strasbourg, Germany. Professor of gynecological pathology at the University Gynecological Clinic at the University of Berlin (circa 1888-1938) and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Minnesota (1939-1947). Noted expert in the field of embryology and histopathology of the uterus and reproductive tract.

Born January 11, 1864 in Hanover, Germany, Robert O. Meyer attended the Universities of Leipzig (1883), Heidelberg (1884), and Strasbourg (1884-1888). For a brief time Dr. Meyer entered private practice and then joined the staff at the Pathological Institute of the University Gynecological Clinic on Artilleriestrasse in Berlin.

Dr. Meyer's career in Germany is noted for his work in the field of embryology and histopathology of the uterus and reproductive tract. Dr. Meyer helped to pioneer the modern use of biopsies to diagnose precancerous lesions on the cervix and ovaries and became the leading expert on the embryological development of the vagina. He contributed to most text books and produced a large body of scientific articles.

In 1935, at the age of seventy-one, the Nazi government relieved him of his position at the University of Berlin due to his Jewish ancestry. With support of his colleagues he remained unofficially on staff and continued to conduct research and collect consultation fees. In December of 1938 the Nazi Ministry of the Interior informed him he would no longer be able to remain in Germany.

By the end of May 1939, Dr. John L. McKelvey, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Minnesota and a former student of Dr. Meyer's, secured approval from Medical School Dean Harold Diehl and University President Guy Stanton Ford as well as the Board of Regents to send an official letter of offer to Dr. Meyer. Funding for the position came from a variety of sources including the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Medical Scientists (New York), the American Gynecological Society, the Manhattan Research Foundation, and through various friends and associates. Additional funds raised from lectureship fees added to the overall amount needed to fund his research position. The total of this revenue established the Robert Meyer Clinical Associate Professorship Fund in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Minnesota.

On September 1, 1939, Dr. Meyer, then seventy-five years old, and his wife planned to fly out of Berlin but could not due to the Nazi invasion of Poland. Instead, they took a train to the Netherlands to meet their ship to the U.S. After a brief stay in New York, they arrived in Minneapolis on September 21. From 1939 until 1947 Dr. Meyer actively participated in the recently formed Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology as a researcher. He also worked with the Minnesota State Board of Health as a part-time obstetrics pathologist with their home deliver training.

Robert Meyer died at the age of eighty-three on December 12, 1947 after having retired from the University of Minnesota in June.

Source of acquisition

Collection donated by Takashi Okagaki, M.D. in May 2010.

Related Material

University of Minnesota Board of Regents Supplements
Robert O. Meyer Papers, 1936-1950
Jenny Filipi
August 2010
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area