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C. Walton Lillehei papers

Identifier: ua2000-0007

Scope and Contents

The processed materials within this collection consist of valuable documentation of the history of the development of open heart surgery and the treatment of heart disease at the University of Minnesota and beyond.

The Subject and Reference Files and Abstracts and Reprints series contain copies of published medical articles and clippings from the popular press and medical journals on a multitude of topics that pertain to heart disease, circa 1940s-1990s.

The Alphabetical Correspondence series contain letters to and from Lillehei from leading surgeons in the cardiovascular field (Russell Brock, Denton Cooley, Viking Bjork, Christiaan Barnard, etc.) to the medical manufacturers who supplied the products used for surgery (Sigmamotor, Inc., Mayon Plastics, Travenol, Medtronic, etc.). The Alphabetical Correspondence relates specifically to Lillehei’s tenure at the University of Minnesota Medical School, circa 1951-1967.

The Subject Correspondence contains three subseries. The first, “Lillehei Minnesota Farewell,” documents the farewell dinner and other festivities held to acknowledge Lillehei’s departure from the University in 1967. The second subseries contains the records of Lillehei’s tenure as the President of the American College of Cardiology from 1966-1967. “Other Correspondence” includes miscellaneous correspondence related to invitations and acceptances to attend and present at medical conferences, grants, and materials from the memorial service held for Owen Wangensteen in 1981. A folder of materials identified as “To Be Filed” was retained in the Other Correspondence in original order.

The Photographs and Illustrations series contains medical illustrations, charts, diagrams, and photographs created to be used for publication and/or presentations: detailed drawings of congenital heart defects; photographs of pacemakers, operations, heart valves, and other devices.

The Presentations, Speeches, and Conferences series contains drafts for speeches Lillehei gave at major medical conventions, conferences, and dinners, along with event invitations, schedules, travel arrangements, and other materials circa 1970s-1980s. It also includes photographs, proceedings, and lectures from the 2004 Lillehei Heart Institute Symposium.

*Note on confidentiality: All content was reviewed for private patient information. All patient names were redacted from correspondence and any found patient records were removed from the publicly accessible collection.


  • 1940s - 1990s


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. All records accessible to the public are outlined in the components list. Patient records are restricted.


36.25 Cubic Feet (29 boxes)


This collection contains the personal and professional papers of C. Walton Lillehei.

Source of acquisition

Collection was deposited by the Lillehei family in 2000.


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.

C. Walton Lillehei papers
In Progress
Rebecca Toov
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area