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Oscar A. Thorup, Jr. papers

Identifier: MS-47

Scope and Contents

The collection includes documents related to various editions of the Fundamentals of Clinical Hematology; U.Va. Class of 1944 and School of Medicine Class of 1946 reunions; letters and Thorup's notes concerning his 1959 visits to medical schools and hospitals in London, Utrecht and Groningan in the Netherlands, Uppsala and Goteborg in Sweden, Stockholm, Edinburgh, Oslo, and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and consequently letters related to summer exchanges at schools abroad in 1960 through 1964; letters and notes concerning his 1972 visits to schools in Finland, Norway, and Sweden; letters received during 1958-59 at Oxford; and talks and papers related to pharmacologic anticoagulants, fibrinolysis, pulmonary embolism, the start of the University of Arizona Medical School, porphyrias, catalase, hemostasis, community medicine; and papers and schedules related to classes taught at U.Va. with James Childress on ethics and public policy in health care, plagues, and AIDS. The collection includes documents related to University of Virginia self-studies and visits to special libraries to obtain information and reprints concerning Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson's thinking on education and medicine.


  • Creation: 1956 - 1997

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Oscar A. Thorup, Jr., was born March 12, 1922, in Washington D.C., the son of Pattie Walter Creecy and Oscar A. Thorup. After earning his undergraduate degree in 1944 at the University of Virginia, he graduated from the U.Va. School of Medicine in 1946. He was a member of the Raven Society, Sigma Xi, and Alpha Omega Alpha. He did his internship at Queen's Hospital in Honolulu, Hawai'i, and then spent two years in the Army Medical Corps at Tripler General Hospital, also in Honolulu. He returned to U.Va. in 1949 for his residency training in internal medicine. He was a research fellow for one year at the University of North Carolina where he worked with Dr. Louis Welt on renal function, electrolyte balance, and metabolism.

In 1953 Dr. Thorup returned to U.Va. as an Instructor in Internal Medicine and as head of the Teachers" Preventorium. The next year he received a $30,000, five year grant from the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation which he used to study abnormal hemoglobins. He was also appointed an Assistant to the Dean in 1954 and worked closely with Dr. Thomas H. Hunter. He served as an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Assistant to the Dean starting in 1955 until he was granted a year's leave of absence to be a visiting investigator in Oxford, England, in 1958. He worked with Dr. R. G. MacFarlane and Dr. Alan Sharp at the Radcliffe Infirmary on blood coagulation and continued his studies in abnormal hemoglobin. Before his return to U.Va., Dr. Thorup used a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to visit medical schools in Scandinavia to assess the feasibility of a staff and student exchange program with his alma mater. This program was eventually developed. He returned in 1959 to U.Va. as an Associate Professor of Medicine. From 1961 to 1966 he was the director of the Hematology Training Program and physician-in-charge of the Hematology Clinic. He served as director of the Harvey E. Jordan Research Laboratory where he studied red cell development and aging.

Dr. Thorup left U.Va. in 1966 to take a position at the University of Arizona's future medical school as professor and chair of the Department of Medicine. He worked with Merlin K. DuVal, M.D., and Philip Krutsch, M.D. as a three-man planning team developing a curriculum and interfacing with architects. While in Arizona, Dr. Thorup became particularly interested in the development of agencies that could guide and promote programs to increase equal access to health care and increase the general quality of health care while reducing cost by better management in planning. He was a proponent of communities correcting their own problems rather than having federal government involvement. While in Arizona, he was part of the Health Planning Council for Greater Tucson, Southern Arizona Health Association, Arizona Heart Association, Pima County Medical Society, Arizona Medical Association, and the Red Cross. Dr. Thorup's papers related to his time at the University of Arizona are at the University of Arizona.

In 1972 Dr. Thorup took a sabbatical from the University of Arizona and returned to Oxford, England. He worked with Dr. Alan Sharp and focused again on the problems of blood coagulation. He visited schools in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. He resumed his chairmanship of the Department of Medicine upon returning to Tucson and then relocated back to the University of Virginia in 1974 where he initiated a new program in continuing education. He became director of the Program of Human Biology and Society, and with Dr. James Childress began a medical ethics program. He also headed the Medical Center Hour, a weekly public conference on cultural and ethical issues related to health care. He retired in 1989 as Professor Emeritus of Medicine.

Dr. Thorup was a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians as well as a member of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, American Federation for Clinical Research, American Medical Association, American Society of Hematology, International Society of Hematology, and Southern Society of Clinical Research. He also served on a number of groups in the state of Virginia. He was on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Association of Continuing Education of Health Professions and served as Chairman of the Council of Physician/Hospital Relations and Chairman of the Housestaff Education Committee. He was a member of the University's Health Systems Agency and Sub-Area Council, the Alumni Faculty Committee of the U.Va. Medical Alumni Association, and the Albemarle County Medical Society.

He wrote a widely used textbook,Fundamentals of Clinical Hematology, with Byrd S. Leavell, M.D. The first edition was published in 1960; the fifth and last in 1987. Most of his publications concerned internal medicine and hematology, but he also wrote papers on community health and medical education. He gave a talk comparing the founding of the University of Virginia Medical School with the University of Arizona Medical School. He did research related to Thomas Jefferson and his interest in medicine. The papers that Dr. Thorup collected concerning medicine and Jefferson are located at the Jefferson Library in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Outside of medicine, Dr. Thorup interests included painting; several of his works are hanging in the University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. On October 21, 2002, following a long illness, Dr. Thorup died at the University of Virginia Medical Center. He was married for 58 years to Barbara Turnbull Thorup and had three children, Cathryn Lynn, Todd Thorup, and Matthew Schuyler.


2.5 Linear Feet


The folders are in six boxes. The first box is a collection of Dr. Thorup's talks and papers arranged by date. The second box contains items related to UVa classes he taught with James Childress outside of the School of Medicine, also arranged by date. The third, fourth, and fifth boxes hold correspondence and documents arranged by date. The last box contains material related to Thorup's research about Thomas Jefferson and education and medicine.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Dr. and Mrs. Oscar A. Thorup.

Physical Description

6 boxes, 5" x 10.5" x 15.5," 2.5 feet, 186 folders


Processed by:
Historical Collections Staff
A Guide to the Oscar A. Thorup, Jr. Papers, 1956-1997
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States